SAN FRANCISCO – Michael Pachter, video game analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, delivered a keynote at the fourth annual Ayzenberg A-List Summit 2012, put on by the all-purpose game marketing, PR and publishing firm. With the conference focusing on “The Consumer Courtship,” Pachter focused his speech on how the social landscape is already affecting the gaming industry and how will it will trend.  


Consoles and PC's have had a slow month interms of new AAA quality games arriving for your respected platform. While January got off to a slow start, it quickly recovered to bring us high quality tittles through digital distribution. Plenty of great downloadable arcade tittles were made available through XBLA, PSN and Steam, giving us many hidden gems on the digital marketplace. Let's look back at the games we reviewed over the past month.  


Zynga, fresh off its IPO, is expanding into new territory on Facebook. The casual game maker has launched Hidden Chronicles, the company’s first-ever social hidden object game. Created by some of the most talented women in casual and social game design and entertainment, Hidden Chronicles invites players to find hidden objects, solve puzzles, and unlock mysteries. Marking an entrance into an entirely new game genre for Zynga, Hidden Chronicles combines memory, skill, and social interactions, making it the most social hidden object game available.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but gamers can enjoy the festive holiday all year long on their smartphone or tablet. Heyzap, a social network for mobile and online games, has compiled a list of the Top 10 Christmas-themed mobile games for gamers to play throughout the holiday season. The Heyzap app, which allows users to check into games, chat with other players, win badges, and more is available for free on Android and iOS.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Facebook. Credit card company Discover has partnered with Zynga to launch the first-ever brand-sponsored FarmVille expansion, Winter Wonderland. The new, customizable holiday farm is the third expansion to be released by the popular social games developer following English Countryside and Lighthouse Cove.


Mafia Wars 2 is Zynga’s first official sequel, taking one of the company’s most successful franchises to a new level of wicked fun. With the game’s official launch on Facebook and Google+, players are already building their criminal empire. Zynga is bringing its most ruthless game to date to as many players as possible. Let’s face it – you can’t be a true franchise if you only own one turf.


Created by Zynga Dallas, CastleVille is the next game in Zynga’s “Ville” franchise which includesFarmVille, FrontierVille, and CityVille. CastleVille is set in a medieval world, with an engaging story, a touch of fantasy and memorable, playful characters. A true manifestation of Zynga’s social magic, the game improves upon the best social and emotional elements from each of the “Ville” games that came before it. In CastleVille players will be able build and manage the kingdom of their dreams, explore the rich world and setting, and share it with their friends.


See what you’ve been missing with Hidden Chronicles– a new genre for Zynga – hidden object games. A combination of memory and skill, this casual social game is easy to learn, yet hard to master. Hidden Chronicles is a social scavenger hunt, including hidden object play, engaging puzzles and the mysterious Ramsey Manor, complete with unique characters who need your help to protect a closely guarded secret. 


In anticipation of its IPO, Zynga showcased new games at Zynga Unleashed, its first media event hosted by CEO and Founder Mark Pincus held at its new San Francisco headquarters. The company gave a sneak peek of several new social games, including the next chapter in its Ville franchise and teased its own new play service, code named Project Z. CastleVille is the newest game heading to Facebook. Cityville, the last title in the franchise, has over 74 million gamers. There’s also a new Zynga Casino that features Zynga Poker and the newly announced Zynga Bingo to create the world’s largest and most social casino. The company is also launching a new Hidden Objects genre with the social game, Hidden Chronicles.


Zynga is pushing social games forward with its latest Facebook game, which draws inspiration from Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. Set during the golden age of exploration, Adventure World unlocks a new universe of exploration and puzzle-solving fun, where players battle nasty critters and trace clues to discover the lost secrets of El Dorado. In Adventure World, players explore a vast universe of five worlds – Deep Jungle, Mountain, Cavern, Volcano and El Dorado – including more than 30dynamic environments. The first game to be developed by the company’s Zynga Boston studio, Adventure World is the most feature-rich game Zynga has ever released at launch.


Despite a recent string of down months in U.S. video game sales at retail this year, a new report from research firm Gartner paints a very rosy picture for the global video game industry. When adding in revenues from burgeoning online, mobile and digital gaming sectors, Gartner estimates that worldwide spending on the gaming ecosystem will exceed $74 billion in 2011, up 10.4 percent from the $67 billion spent last year. By 2015, spending is expected to reach $112 billion.


Zynga had a very good year last year, and now the company is offering you the opportunity to get in on the action. Zynga filed for a $1 billion IPO today with Morgan Stanley & Co. and Goldman, Sachs & Co. serving as book running managers and representatives of the underwriters for the offering. The game maker that has lured hundreds of millions of gamers with titles like Farmville, Cityville and Empires & Allies is going public.


AT&T has signed a deal with social games developer Zynga, designed to bring the very latest in mobile social gaming to AT&T’s millions of wireless customers. Popular games such as Words with Friends and Zynga Poker, plus customized content, will be featured for download on AT&T’s shelf in Android Market later this year. The agreement is the first of its kind between Zynga and a U.S. wireless carrier.


Zynga’s first strategy game has been an early hit with Facebook gamers. Empires & Allies has already topped 33 million players in less than three weeks. The game, which launched June 1, includes more social features than any Zynga game. It’s also the company’s first title to be launched out of Zynga's Los Angeles studio. Over 6.5 million active daily users are playing the game.