Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), the world’s biggest online retailer, said it debuted a social game called “Living Classics” on Facebook Inc. (FB)’s website in “its first major foray into video game development.”
The game is free to play and features a family of foxes wandering through scenes from books including “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” Seattle-based Amazon said on its website. Amazon said it’s hiring game developers and plans to introduce more titles through Amazon Game Studios.
Amazon’s push into social games challenges Zynga Inc. (ZNGA), the game developer that generates most of its revenue from goods sold through popular titles on Facebook, such as a gun in “Mafia Wars” or a tractor in “Farmville.”
“We know that many Amazon customers enjoy playing games -- including free-to-play social games -- and thanks to Amazon’s know-how, we believe we can deliver a great, accessible gaming experience that gamers and our customers can play any time,” Amazon said on its website.
In another potential challenge to Zynga, MGM Resorts International (MGM), the largest casino operator on the Las Vegas Strip, introduced a social gambling application on Facebook yesterday through a partnership with game developer Playstudios Inc. The app, called myVegas, lets users gamble and explore iconic properties including the Monte Carlo and Circus Circus.
Players can win loyalty points within the games for real- world rewards such as choosing a song for the Bellagio hotel fountain or diving with the sharks at Mandalay Bay’s acquarium.
Zynga plans to introduce real-money gambling by the middle of next year, pending regulatory approval, said John Schappert, chief operating officer, in an interview last month.
The company makes the five most popular games played on Facebook, according to AppData. “Texas HoldEm Poker,” with 35.2 million monthly active users, and “Bubble Safari,” with 28.2 million users, top the social gaming charts.
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