OMGPOP – Free Online Gaming

What does it mean to interact digitally?

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Interactive media is “the integration of digital media including combinations of electronic text, graphics, moving images, and sound, into a structured digital computerized environment that allows people to interact with the data for appropriate purposes. The digital environment can include the Internet, telecoms and interactive digital television.” [SOURCE?]

So let’s simplify it, If you go onto a website, smart phone or tablet device, or even a DVD movie, you make selections. Click on this to find out this information. Click on that to go to that page or chapter. Anytime you select and click, you are choosing where you want to go next and what you want to see next. That is being interactive with the content. Media just means any information or content and how it is presented.

So with that in mind, I will pay homage to the late and great online interactive web site known as OMGPOP, where just the other week a buyout from Zynga was finalized to officially close one of the largest FREE online gaming experiences to date. Of which included the incredibly popular interactive game “Draw Something.”

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Consisting of live participants in an online format, a designated user attempts to their best ability to draw something a selected topic that only they are informed of. At which point the other players attempt to guess what that person is drawing, and whoever guesses correctly first wins.

In a sense, this could closely be associated with Nathan Walters’ article “Cinematic Experiences in Video Games: Worrying Trend,” Where Walters makes it his point to declare that video games do not need to follow a stringent narrative structure to be enjoyed. All that really needs to be there is enjoyment and entertainment value, no matter how simple the interface or plot. With something so simple as drawing and guessing, Draw Something’s pictionary-eque rules are incredibly simple and fun, lending to hours of peer to peer interactive entertainment.

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Unfortunately, Zynga has decided to shut all aspects of the OMGPOP division that it bought for one hundred and eighty million dollars about a year and a half ago. The announcement comes as no surprise since employees of OMGPOP, including the makers of the former hit game Draw Something, confirmed that the closure was coming in June. It evidently took some time for Zynga to finalize the plans.

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The mega hit online tech consumer magazine Tech Crunch, recalls that the OMGPOP team was in contact with Zynga to buy back the OMGPOP.com website and continue operating its games. But Zynga reportedly refused, even when the group proposed to buy everything except the more valuable Draw Something property. Zynga reportedly said it would take too much legal work and decided not to sell anything. Sadly, it laid off all OMGPOP employees and said the OMGPOP.com site would stop operating on Sept. 30. Zynga will shut down some of the games including but not limited to: Cupcake Corner, Gem Rush, Pool World Champ, and Snoops by the end of August.
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And as is expected, Zynga declined comment.

Zynga has been cutting a lot of other games (and hundreds of employees). But none really epitomized the frenzy over mobile gaming as Draw Something, which saw a drastic rise in popularity and then a steep decline within a matter of weeks after Zynga bought it. The publisher recently released Draw Something 2, but the game didn’t meet the company’s expectations. Players of the affected games are being offered compensation packages in other Zynga titles, including Farmville 2, Hidden Shadows, and Bubble Safari. Zynga will continue to support the Draw Something titles.

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Apparently the company has its hands full with a re-evaluation of its strategy under new chief executive Don Mattrick. Mattrick, former head of the Microsoft games business joined Zynga as CEO in early July. Mark Pincus, Zynga’s founder, became chief product officer and chairman. On July 25, Mattrick said he was formulating his strategy over the next three months and he expected some fluctuation in the company for two to four quarters.
Such volatility within the financial market just wiped out OMGPOP.com, which was reportedly operating profitably and had more than 30,000 monthly active users.

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Zynga acquired OMGPOP at the height of its success, just as Draw Something, OMGPOP’s first real smash hit, was exploding onto handsets everywhere. By the time Zynga pushed an update to add their logo to the game, its popularity had already tapered. With Zynga’s latest announcemt stating, “Our goal at Zynga is to give players the opportunity to play the most fun and social games on the web,” reads a company statement. “With this goal in mind, we have decided to close some OMGPOP games to make way for new and exciting gaming opportunities.”

Although Draw Something still remains, the future is still uncertain as it is unclear what Zynga intends to do with OMGPOP’s online gaming portal as previous to the company’s primary focus before shfiting to mobile, and whether or not they’ll continue to use the OMGPOP brand. So keep Those eyes peeled and those ears to the ground, for whatever is next in the future of free interactive online gaming.

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