Opinion: Zynga investors start to realize their predicament

As Zynga’s share prices circle the drain, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris examines how CEO Mark Pincus’ “insistence on absolute control” has left the company’s investors in a tough position.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that anyone who shelled out for Zynga stock when the company went public — or even in the five months that followed — isn’t real happy these days.

After reaching a high of nearly $16 per share, the stock now dwells in the cellar, closing Thursday at $3.25. (And, if it weren’t for JMP Securities’ bullish words when it initiated coverage on the company Wednesday, it would almost certainly be even lower.)

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Opinion: OnLive is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

OnLive was the first high-profile advocate of a newfangled concept called “cloud games.” With the company on the ropes, Chris Morris examines the unanswered questions surrounding OnLive’s future.

Whatever becomes of OnLive in the months and years to come, one thing is certain: Its handling of its ongoing transition (or rebirth or metamorphosis — whatever you choose to call it) is going to go down in the halls of video game infamy.

It’s a change that, in terms of confusion, has been handled about as well as the early days of the Sony hacking incident and the 2010 “shut down”/rebirth of Good Old Games. And while there is more solid information today than there was when word of the mass layoffs came about on Friday, there are still plenty on unanswered questions.

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Wall Street eyes GameStop as a takeover candidate

There’s been plenty of new chatter indicating that leading video game retailer GameStop is a prime buyout target. How likely is that scenario, and if it happened, what would it mean for publishers?

Video game consumers have something of a love-hate relationship with GameStop. So do publishers.

For that matter, so do investors. And over the past couple of days, Wall Street insiders (and the financial blogosphere) have been whispering furiously about the possibility that GameStop could find itself on the receiving end of a buyout offer at some point in the future.

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Two top Bioshock Infinite team members leave Irrational

Key members of the development team on Bioshock Infinite have left Irrational Games, raising questions about the state of the highly anticipated title, sources tell Gamasutra.

Tim Gerritsen, director of product development, and art director Nate Wells have both announced their departure. Wells was a 13 year veteran of the studio, whose distinctive style was heralded in the original Bioshock.

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Zynga: The worst may be yet to come

Last week was an ugly one for Zynga, but the company is likely to face some even rockier times, argues Chris Morris, with the coming expiration of a new round of employee stock options being the most looming hurdle.

Last week was an ugly one for Zynga. An earnings shortfall and reduced guidance for the coming fiscal year resulted in a 40 percent drop in the company’s stock, which brought out the doomsayers.

Those corporate obituaries are premature, but the company is likely to face some even rockier times before there’s much chance of things getting better.

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Ubisoft’s Guillemot: New consoles are overdue

With the current console generation in the midst of its eighth year — and retail game sales sliding for the past seven months — there’s little argument that the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii have become a bit long in the tooth. There might be plenty of power left to exploit from their components, but from a consumer standpoint, people are ready for something new.

So is Yves Guillemot. The CEO and co-founder of Ubisoft says his company has plenty of strong titles doing well these days, but the publisher revels in new hardware launches.

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Activision on the block: Assessing the potential buyers

Vivendi might be getting more serious about offloading Activision-Blizzard.

Reuters reports the French conglomerate has been in talks with a number of video game (and mass media) companies about a potential sale of the industry’s top seller.

That makes for a good headline – and I have no doubt about Reuters’ report, but as the industry works itself into a frenzy trying to guess whether Microsoft, Time Warner, or Tencent will be the new home of Call of Duty and Diablo, too many people are failing to scratch the surface.

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Warren Spector’s lessons learned from Epic Mickey

Warren Spector has never been afraid to polarize gamers. He is, in many ways, the epitome of the “go big or go home” style of game making – and he’ll be the first to tell you that he’d rather fail in spectacular fashion than do something that bores him.

But there has never been a split like Epic Mickey. It was a game that was beloved by some and ripped to shreds by others. It was the best selling single-platform game in Disney’s history — but critics thumped Disney for leaving money on the table, citing the game’s decision to release exclusively on the Nintendo Wii and its post-Thanksgiving release date.

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Why EverQuest house SOE went all-in with free-to-play games

SOE isn’t as high profile as in its EverQuest heyday, but it’s settled in as one of the biggest players in free-to-play triple-A games. President John Smedley discusses why he thinks SOE’s headed in the right direction.

Most company presidents spent E3 locked in meeting rooms, only getting a few sparse moments to explore the show floor. Not Sony Online Entertainment’s John Smedley. He actively spent time in the thick of things — though he rarely strayed far from his own booth.

Smedley’s a heavy FPS fan — and he’s especially enamored with SOE’s upcoming action MMO Planetside 2. That professed dedication isn’t unusual when an executive has a product to sell, but few of those executives arrive to E3 2.5 hours early so they can sneak in a couple hours of gameplay, and lob trash talk at other players.

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Four keys to next-gen success, according to Take-Two’s Zelnick

New console launches “separate the winners from the losers — and we fully expect to be one of the winners,” says Take-Two chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick in this Gamasutra interview.

While Nintendo fell short of its goal of whipping gamers into a frenzy for the Wii U at this year’s E3, third-party publishers, who see the system as a key driver of future growth, were reticent to downplay its potential. Instead, they cited the system’s long-term potential, rather than its initial impact.

Take-Two Interactive Software chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick, however, was not among the cheerleaders.

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