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SocialDeck Announces Acquisition by Google
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Google continues its pattern of social gaming-related acquisitions with the acquisition of SocialDeck. Inside Social Games has discovered a letter posted to SocialDeck’s website, announcing the acquisition. The letter says:

Google Loses Games Advocate After Four Months

It’s widely accepted that Google is one of the world’s best employers, and every open position is fought over by a multitude of applicants.  However, a man who was supposed to help bridge the gap between Google and the gaming industry has left after only about four months on the job.

Mark DeLoura held the title "Developer Advocate, Games," and he doesn’t seem to have been lured away by another company.  DeLoura didn’t cite any other usual excuse for quitting, either.  As a result, his departure may turn out to be a problem for Google.

Study: 20% Of Americans Have Played Social Games

FarmVille, Happy Aquarium, Mafia Wars, and the like are gaining ground.  A new report from the NPD Group indicates that about 20 percent of the U.S. population has played a game on a social network sometime in the last three months.

That works out to around 56.8 million individuals, which is a rather stunning number.  What’s more, 35 percent of them (or 19.9 million people) are supposed to be new to gaming, meaning growth will likely continue to take place on a large scale.

Verizon Revamps its On-Demand Games App

Verizon has launched a new, enhanced version of its Verizon Games portal and app. Based on feedback, Verizon says the new design caters to a more interactive experience.

Verizon describes the new experience as more game-like and more engaging. The company says it is designed to appeal not just to hard core gamers, but to first-time players as well.

Google Shows off Games in Chrome Web Store
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We’ve known Google has been taking a new liking to social games lately, as evidenced by recent acquisitions. It was unclear, however, just what Google’s plan was in this space. While we still probably don’t have the whole picture, the company did show off one aspect of its plans at GDC Europe, this week.

Symantec Finds Trojan in Android App That Broadcasts Phone Location
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Symantec detected a trojan within an Android game, which is secretly uploading GPS user location information. A representative for the company tells WebProNews that while the particular instance doesn’t really represent a major security threat, "it does demonstrate how new mobile threats are emerging and evolving."

Zynga Buys Social Game Company Conduit Labs

Zynga, makers of popular social games Farmville and Mafia Wars, announced that it has acquired Conduit Labs, another social games company based out of Boston.

Zynga will turn the Conduit Labs office into simply "Zynga Boston", where the company will focus on new product development. The company currently has locations in San Francisco, Austin, Baltimore, Bangalore, Beijing and Los Angeles.

Microsoft Looks to Xbox to Help Drive Windows Phone 7 Success

Microsoft announced its first wave of games for Windows Phone 7. These will be available at launch or shortly after, the company said.

Microsoft revealed the first 50 titles, some of which gamers will recognize, and others that are completely new. The company also said the games will be "closely linked" with Xbox Live.

Booyah Getting 350,000 Check-Ins a Week for Products in MyTown

Back in July, Booyah launched Check-Ins for products in the popular MyTown check-in-based game. The company announced today that it has seen, on average, over 350,000 Product Check-ins a week.

The feature has also attracted the attention of Pantene and H&M, which are offering exclusive items to players of the game.

Gmail: The Game
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A Googler, by the name of Paul Truong (Creative Technologist) has created a game based on his love for Gmail. The game was created with HTML5, and runs a little choppy in Firefox.

The Gmail game is a throwback to arcade games of yesteryear in which you’re a spaceship flying around, shooting various flying objects. You know the kind – Galaga, Stinger, Lifeforce, and probably dozens of others.

iPhone and iPad Apps About To Get More Integrated with Facebook
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Facebook has launched a new software development kit (SDK) for Apple’s iOS operating system, which powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. This is an update from the previous SDK launched for the iPhone last March.

"With today’s update we’ll have SDKs for both iOS and Android devices that provide an even easier way for mobile app developers to go social," a Facebook representative tells WebProNews.

Google Ventures Reportedly Investing Over $100 Million in ngmoco

It’s no secret that Google has taken an interest in games lately. The company has been reported to have invested in Zynga, which is responsible for games like Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Ad Spending On Social Games Predicted To Rise

The stock market crashed again today, with the Dow falling 2.49 percent and the Nasdaq losing an even more worrisome 3.01 percent.  But a new report predicts that lots of money will still be spent on ads in social games, with marketers pumping in bigger sums this year and in 2011.

Zynga Reportedly Pulls Farmville From MSN

Zynga has apparently removed its massively popular game Farmville from Microsoft’s MSN Games, and nobody seems to know why. The timing of this is interesting as Google has reportedly been in investment talks with Zynga, while it has been acquiring other social game-related properties.

Blockbuster Adds Xbox, Playstation, Wii Games to Subscription Rental Service
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Blockbuster has announced that it’s adding games to its mail rental service. Customers now have access to over 3,000 titles for Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2 and Wii through the company’s mail subscriptions service.

Blockbuster says the move makes them the only entertainment company to offer rentals of games, movies, and TV shows for home delivery through a single subscription service.

Are You Ready for Some (iPad) Football?

NFL Football officially gets underway tonight, as the Hall of Fame game between the Cincinnati Bengals (featuring Twitter legends Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco) and the Dallas Cowboys (Owens’) former team kicks off. While only the beginning of the preseason, football fans are excited for the return of their favorite sport.

Zynga Buys Japanese Gaming Company Unoh
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Zynga has acquired Japanese social gaming company Unoh, which will become a major part of Zynga’s mobile strategy. The company’s mobile product efforts will be a joint venture between SoftBank Group and Zynga.

Popular Unoh games include Machitsuku!, Band Yarouyo!, and Kaizoku Chronicle. Zynga says that in addition to maintaining Unoh’s games on mixi, Mobage-town, and GREE, Zynga Japan will also localize Zynga games and develop new games targeted at the Japanese market.

Unconfirmed Next-Generation iPod Touch Photos Surface

MacRumors has posted photos of what are supposedly pieces of the upcoming iPod Touch 4 with FaceTime. These have yet to be confirmed, however.

AppleInsider reports that Apple is rumored to be in talks to buy a Chinese mobile ISP and game developer for $148 million.

Booyah Taps Google Maps API, Places to Take MyTown International

Booyah announced today that it is taking MyTown international.

 The company has launched support for MyTown (for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) across Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The company says this makes MyTown the first to support global check-ins utilizing the recently launched Places Web Service via the Google Maps API.

Facebook Seeks Head Of Games Partnerships

The rate at which Facebook seals game-related deals may soon increase.  The social network’s current gaming partners may soon grow happier, too.  That’s because Facebook’s attempting to hire a "Head of Games Partnerships," and those will be among his (or her) top priorities.

Playdom (Fresh off Disney Acquisition News) Launches World Series of Poker Facebook App

Playdom has been in the news a lot over the week as Disney announced its agreement to acquire the social gaming company. Today, Playdom announced a partnership with Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment to launch the Official World Series of Poker game on Facebook and other social networks.