Odds & Ends: Facebook TX, BillMyParents, gWallet, Happy Island, Hi5, Yoo-Mee, Tiki Farm

Before a new week gets going, here are some odds & ends from around the web to wrap up the weekend.

What big news are you watching in the week ahead?

Facebook Looks to Open 200-Person Office in Austin, Texas (via Inside Facebook & Mashable) – “Although Facebook has US offices outside of its Palo Alto headquarters — in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Washington, D.C. — it is set to make its first big domestic employee expansion 0utside of Silicon Valley. If Austin, Texas’s city council approves a part of an incentives package, Facebook will open up a 200-person office there in May… Facebook is also a very high-profile company, with 400 million active users. It would be a big win for Austin’s reputation as a secondary tech hub, especially since Facebook has made only small expansions outside of Palo Alto in the past.”

Virtual Goods, Accounting, and the Power of the “Rental” Model (via AboveTheCrowd) – “American journalists and corporate executives have been slow to appreciate the beauty, brilliance, and consumer allure of the virtual goods business model… Here is a summary of what Mick [Bobroff] had to say in his presentation titled “Revenue Recognition Considerations for the Sale of Virtual Goods”.

You’re the Designer in Engineous Games’ Sketch Nation Shooter for iPhone and iPod Touch (via VerticalWire) – “Engineous Games (TriplePoint client) unveiled Sketch Nation Shooter, a creative, revolutionary game for the iPhone and iPod Touch where users fill the game world with their own custom art. Sketch Nation Shooter features a revolutionary image recognition technology that imports the player’s artwork as interactive sprites. Players can also customize their own levels with unique enemies, bosses and environments, and share them with friends via the Sketch Nation network. Keep an eye out for Sketch Nation Shooter as it launches to the App Store in early April 2010.”

BillMyParents Launches Version 2.0 of Its Online Teen and Parent Payment Solutions Site (via CNNMoney.com) – “BillMyParents Significantly Upgrades Its Teen Payment Solutions Website to Enhance Usability, Functionality and Introduces Its MasterCard(R) Prepaid Card With Innovative Parent Control Features: Socialwise, Inc. announced the release of version 2.0 of its online teen payment solutions site, BillMyParents. BillMyParents has significantly upgraded its previous capabilities giving teens the freedom to shop online (subject to parent-directed controls) and has added a MasterCard prepaid card payment solution. In addition to removing obstacles to online commerce (cited by 40% of teens surveyed), BillMyParents’ prepaid card solution removes the hazards associated with carrying cash. BillMyParents also maintains parents’ credit card numbers and other personal information securely.”

Three new Facebook game walkthroughs on Gamezebo -
Restaurant City (by PlayFish): “In Restaurant City you design and run your own virtual restaurant while interacting with friends, trading ingredients with them, and gifting items daily to help each other develop their restaurants…”

FarmVille (by Zynga): “The object of the game is to start out with a small piece of farm land and a little money and by making wise choices in your purchases, planting strategies, and investing your profits back into the farm wisely, over time you can grow the farm into an amazing farming empire. You purchase seeds for items such as flowers and vegetables and harvest and sell them for profit. You can also purchase animals and trees that you can harvest for funds. The more money you make the bigger and more elaborate of a farm you can build. The game is highly dependent on its social component for success…”

Happy Island (by CrowdStar): “The goal of Happy Island is to take a deserted Island and make it into a Tourist Attraction by placing all kinds of attractions on it such as Hotels, Casinos, Amusement Parks, Gardens, Food Stands, and attract as many tourists as you can. Each day any attraction you purchase for the Island will make money and experience points (XP) for you. With this money you can buy more advanced attractions or upgrade the ones you already have in place and the XPs are used to level up in the game…”

Windows Marketplace boasts highest average game pricing (via CasualGaming.biz) – “Windows Marketplace for Mobile has the highest average price for paid games at $4.91, followed by BlackBerry App World’s $4.60 and Nokia Ovi Store’s $3.37. iPhone’s App Store has an average price of $2.24 for paid games, while Android Market brings up the rear with $2.08. This is according to analytics firm Distimo’s latest app stores report.”

gWallet launches “brand bar” platform to monetize social games (via VentureBeat) – “gWallet, an offer startup in social media, is launching an extension to its platform that it believes will improve monetization in social games. The company’s new Brand Bar is a way to stick monetization offers right in front of the user’s face in a social game. The bar appears at the top of a game screen on all pages and displays. It offers users the chance to earn virtual currency which they can spend in a game. To get the currency, they have to watch a video ad by clicking on the Brand Bar, or they could make some kind of direct payment if they wish.”

Hook-Up Some Cash with the Hottie Hookups iPhone Game Rebate (via VerticalWire) – “Ph03nix New Media (TriplePoint client) announced a rebate offer for Hottie Hookups through their innovative iPhone Game Rebate program… Through March 10, customers who purchase Hottie Hookups from the App Store qualify for a $1.99 cash rebate… Hottie Hookups is a unique time-management game from the creators of the acclaimed #1 iPhone game Sally’s Spa. Blending elements from line drawing and castle defense games, Hottie Hookups is an irreverent, ironic game where you must connect hotties on the dance floor while defending them from nerds, fatties, and geezers using a variety of techniques.”

Social Game Platform Yoo-Mee Launched by Hooked Media (via IndustryGamers) – “Hooked Media Group, backed by $4.5 million in funding from U.S. Venture Partners and Altos Ventures, today unveiled Yoo-Mee, a new social game platform designed to create a community of players across websites, social networks and mobile devices. From a marketing perspective, Yoo-Mee gives advertisers access to potentially 89 million gamers in the U.S. and 200 million globally. Yoo-Mee will enable players to compete one-on-one with each other or in group tournaments. It will also track high scores, virtual currency, and social media connections so that gamers can connect with friends and top players.”

Tiki Farm Achievement Trophies Guide (via Games.com) – “Playdom’s Tiki Farm is a Facebook farming simulation game similar to FarmVille, but instead of finding yourself dropped onto a nowhere land of green fields and brown plots, you’re camped out next to an active volcano on a South Pacific island… After the jump, find a listing of Tiki Farm achievements and how to master them all.”

Hi5 Beefs Up Social Games Platform with Purchase of Big Six (via InsideSocialGames) – “Hi5 has been transitioning from being a social network to becoming more of a social gaming platform for more than a year now, and it’s taking a step further through a new acquisition. The company has purchased Big Six, a 3 month old social game developer based out of Austin, Texas — it hasn’t launched anything yet, but it raised funding, and it was founded by a number of experienced game entrepreneurs… While Big Six brings some technology with the purchase, the big point, as Big Six told us this afternoon, is to refine Hi5’s virtual goods systems as it continues to expand its games, and third-party gaming platform.”

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  4. Decorate Your Island With Tiki Farm Flags
  5. Hi5′s President Believes Facebook’s Social Gaming Days Are Numbered
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