You With Friends contest tells the story of you

January 31, 2011 | By David Calkins

2011 is going to be a big year for us. We have a lot of stuff in the works, both for our games you already know and love and some new titles that will have you falling in love all over again. As exciting as this is, it has been helpful for us to remember that none of it would be possible without you, our players.

So we wanted to start things off with a bang, but also do it in a way that helped us get to you know all better. We decided the most exciting way to do this was with a photo contest, with an Apple iPad as the grand prize.

Called “You With Friends,” the contest asked you to share a photo that told a story about yourself and also included one of our logos. We received more than 250 entries, all of which gave us a small glimpse into the lives of our players. We then had the difficult task of choosing 15 finalists. Finally, you helped us decide who should win.

The resulting selection of winners is funny, insightful, inspiring and ultimately heartwarming. The message to us is clear: you heart us. So we say: we heart you back.

Check out the winners for yourselves.

Shortened auto-resign times, or, a quick note on our process for enhancing our games

January 7, 2011 | By David Calkins

We recently made a decision to shorten the wait time before games will auto-resign. As of today, random games will auto-resign after 5 days without a move and invite games after the 11th day with no moves. A push notification will also be sent the day before a game auto-resigns as a reminder. Previously, the wait time was 7 and 22 days, respectively. We’d like to share a bit about what went into this decision.

We love hearing from players of our games. Sometimes they have nothing but praise. Other times they have issues that we do our best to work out. But a lot of the time they just have suggestions. This feedback is valuable to us and helps shape our thoughts on ways to improve our games.

Our developers have learned a few things from their experience making games people love. First, the majority of players never speak up. We now have more than 10 million Games With Friends players, and only a fraction of them have offered suggestions. We want to make sure new features or changes are a good fit for the majority of folks as well as our most passionate players.

Which brings us to the second thing we’ve come to appreciate: actions speak louder than words. Rather than hire a research firm to poll our players, we like to go directly to the game play data itself when possible to learn how users are playing our games.

One of the more popular requests from our players was to shorten the wait time before games auto-resign. Which makes sense. If you have a Words or Chess With Friends game going with a friend and they decide not to finish playing, that game will continue to sit on your games list, taking up space and adding to your limit of 20 simultaneous games. So we auto-resign those after a certain number of days have passed. Until now, the wait time has been on the longer side because we didn’t want to leave anyone out, including people that like to take their time in between moves.

However, we recently finished crunching a bunch of data and found that for random games, only 1.1% of players make a move after the 5th day. For invite games, only 1% of players make a move after the 11th day. Any sooner and the percentages jump up considerably. So now we not only know for a fact that most of you wouldn’t mind a shorter wait time, we can pinpoint exactly how to adjust those times.

This is the model we’ll be following for future enhancements. We’ll look first to our community of players for feedback, weigh that feedback against our overarching strategy for Games With Friends and then try to confirm it with data if possible.

So please continue sharing your thoughts and ideas with us, whether through email or on Facebook or Twitter. Together, we’ll work to make our games even better.

Today is a big day for Newtoy

December 2, 2010 | By Paul Bettner


Last week, the founders and shareholders of Newtoy, in conjunction with Zynga’s board of directors and executive team, finalized an agreement to join forces and merge our two companies together. Today I am very proud to announce this partnership.

From the beginning, Newtoy’s mission has been to connect the world through games, which Zynga prides itself on day-in and day-out. My brother David, Michael Chow and I founded the company in 2008 with a belief that the most beloved games invite friends to share, compete, cooperate and enjoy the experience together. We launched the Games With Friends franchise as an expression of this vision, a social gaming platform singularly focused on recreating the same joy we feel sharing a game night with family, or a board game with friends.

Two years later, we still watch in amazement as over millions of people play Games With Friends more than one hour each day. People now share stories with us of how our games have become a crucial part of their daily lives, a way for them to connect with friends and loved ones that they might not otherwise be in touch with. I can’t tell you how much joy this brings to all of us at Newtoy.

When Zynga and Newtoy first engaged, it became clear that our two companies were on similar paths. As we continued exploring the idea of joining forces, both sides became more and more convinced of the incredible potential in pursuing this mission together.

It has been a long road to get here, but I am so happy to celebrate the rebirth of our studio as Zynga With Friends. Throughout this process, both the Newtoy and Zynga teams utilized a secret codename of sorts for the operation, “Jetpack.” Why this name, and not something else – like code 007? Because to us, this acquisition represents the potential to “strap jetpacks to our backs” and move faster towards our shared goal of connecting the world through games.

And that’s what we’re going to do!

Read more about the announcement here.

The free version of Words With Friends HD is available now!

November 8, 2010 | By David Calkins

We’re excited to announce that the free version of Words With Friends HD is available now for download on the App Store! The game features a polished, single-screen game interface similar to the premium version. It’s free thanks to in-game advertising, similar to the free version on the iPhone.

Here at Newtoy, we love having free versions of our games. That way, there’s something for everyone. While some of our regular players love the option to turn off ads, new players can try the free version before deciding to go paid. They may even decide they don’t mind ads and stay with the free version, but the great thing is the choice is up to them.

We continue to be amazed at the popularity of Words With Friends. Currently, there are more than two million daily active players who have sent more than three billion moves through our servers. That’s truly awesome!


Welcome to our blog!

September 21, 2010 | By David Calkins

We’ve decided to party like it’s 2005 and start a blog! Over the next couple weeks we hope to bring you updates on everything we’ve been working on lately, including updates, new games and other cool stuff. Also, stay tuned for posts on gameplay strategy, cool contests, FAQs and more.

Talk to you soon!