Zynga Game Network

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Zynga Game Network

Post by Admin on Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:22 am


Zynga Game Network, IncTypeFoundedFounderHeadquartersArea servedKey peopleIndustryRevenueEmployeesSloganWebsiteAlexa rankRegistrationUsersAvailable inCurrent status
January 2007

  • Mark Pincus
  • Michael Luxton
  • Eric Schiermeyer
  • Justin Waldron
  • Andrew Trader
  • Steve Schoettler

San Francisco, California, US
Mark Pincus (CEO)
Interactive entertainment, Social network service
$850 million (2010)
"Connecting the world through games"
292 (May 2011[update])[1]
~250 million
Zynga (/ˈzɪŋɡə/) is a social network game developer located in San Francisco, California, United States.[2] The company develops browser-based games that work both stand-alone and as application widgets on social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace.
As of May 2011, Zynga's games on Facebook have nearly 250 million monthly active users.[3] In terms of daily active users, four of Zynga's games, CityVille, FarmVille, Zynga Poker, and FrontierVille are the most widely used game applications on Facebook, with CityVille having over 20 million daily active users.[4]
Reportedly valued at $10 billion, Zynga is planning to file paperwork for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of May 2011, according to AllThingsD.com.[5]

Zynga was founded in January 2007 by Mark Pincus, Scott Sale, Kyle Stewart and John Doerr.[6] They received USD $29 million in venture finance from several firms, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in July 2008, at which time they appointed former Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer Bing Gordon to the board.[7] At that time, they also bought YoVille, a large virtual world social network game.[7] According to their website, as of December 2009, they had 60 million unique daily active users.[8]
The company name "Zynga" comes from an American bulldog once owned by Mark Pincus.[9][10] They use a bulldog as their symbol.
As of September 2010, Zynga had over 1,200 employees.[11]
On 17 February 2010, Zynga opened Zynga India in Bangalore, the company’s first office outside the United States.[12]
On 18 March 2010, Zynga confirmed that they will open a second international office in Ireland.[13]
On 7 May 2010, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch reported that Zynga was threatening to leave Facebook altogether in the wake of Facebook's requiring exclusive use of Facebook credits for monetization in applications.[14]
After Facebook negotiations for having Zynga host its games solely on
Facebook fell through, Facebook retaliated by shutting off notifications
for several Zynga games, including FarmVille.[14] Plans surfaced for Zynga to distance itself from Facebook by creating a new "Zynga Live" network, to be called ZLive.[15] On 18 May 2010, Facebook and Zynga entered into a five-year relationship to expand the use of Facebook Credits in Zynga's games. Sheryl Sandberg,
COO of Facebook, was quoted as saying, "We are pleased to enter into a
new agreement with Zynga to enhance the experience for Facebook users
who play Zynga games." Both companies stated they were currently
together testing the use of Facebook Credits, which would allow Facebook
to effectively capture 30% of any user's spending in the game, and
their use would be gradually rolled out to all games.[16] In a May 24, 2011 discussion at TechCrunch Disrupt, Arrington and Bing Gordon described the incident as the "Cuban Missile Crisis of tech".[17]
On 3 June 2010, Zynga acquired Challenge Games.[18]
With the acquisition of Dextrose, now Zynga Germany, representing the
company's first expansion into Europe, Zynga now has a total of 13
studios around the world, including offices in Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Los
Angeles, Boston, Baltimore, Bangalore, Beijing, and Tokyo.
On October 5, 2010 Bonfire Studios was acquired by Zynga. It was renamed to Zynga Dallas.
After the acquisition of Bonfire Studios, Zynga now has more than 1300 employees worldwide.
As reported by Bloomberg and others,[19]
stock trades on the private stock sale service SharesPost established a
valuation of above $5 billion for the company, greater than the public market capitalization of gaming industry leader Electronic Arts and has more than 320 million registered users, 1,300 employees and estimated revenues above $500 million for 2010.[20][21]
On December 2, 2010, Zynga announced that they have acquired the Texas-based mobile game developer Newtoy, Inc., developers of the game "Words With Friends",[22] and renamed the studio to Zynga With Friends.[23]
In December 2010, Zynga's game CityVille surpassed FarmVille as its most popular game[24] with over 61 million monthly active users and a base of over 16 million daily active users.[25]
Zynga has acquired the New York base game developer Area/Code, now renamed Zynga New York.
In March 2011, Zynga announced the acquisition of the team from
Massachusetts game developer Floodgate Entertainment. It was Zynga’s
10th acquisition in ten months.[26]
In April 2011, Zynga announced the acquisition of MarketZero, an online poker tracker company.[27]
Also in March 2011, the company channeled 100% of direct donations or
revenue from virtual goods purchases through its social games (over $1
million) to Japan for the relief efforts related to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.[28] The company had been criticized in the past for keeping up to 50% of donations it collected.[29]
In April 2011, the company partnered with Lady GaGa in a new game offering.[30]
In May 2011, the company was reported to to be in the process of
raising an additional $500 million with a valuation at $10 billion[31]
Business model

Zynga is supported in two manners: Via direct credit card payments and partner businesses.[32][33]
Several Zynga games require an "Energy" characteristic to play.
Engaging in "Missions", a core feature of many games, consumes a certain
amount of energy. After expending energy, it slowly replenishes to the
character's maximum limit. This can take minutes or several hours
(energy replenishes whether or not players are logged into the game).
After energy is replenished, players can engage in additional missions.
Waiting for energy to replenish is a significant limiting factor in the
games. Their support mechanisms take advantage of this.
Zynga games are linked to offers from a number of partners. Players
can accept credit card offers, take surveys or buy services from Zynga's
partners in order to obtain game credits, which would allow them to
replenish their character's energy or receive premium currency that
could be exchanged for other various virtual goods.
Players may also purchase game credits directly from Zynga via credit card[32] or PayPal. From within the game, players can purchase the points for a fee: USD$5.00 for 21 game credits, for example.
In March 2010 Zynga started selling prepaid cards for virtual currency at more than 12,800 stores across the US.[34]
Zynga also sells advertising sponsorships within some games such as movie tie-ins and other brands.[35]
Platinum Purchase Program

In September 2010, Gawker
reported that Zynga had set up a "Platinum Purchase Program" allowing
members to purchase virtual currency in amounts over $500 at favorable
rates by making a payment via wire transfer. In contrast, the normal maximum purchase limits are $50 to $200.[36]
As with other social game companies, Zynga depends on a small core of
large spenders, known within the industry as "whales", for a large part
of its income.[37]
Ryan Tate, author of the post, speculated that the program was a way
for gaming addicts to feed their obsession, and compared the secrecy of
the program to the secrecy of drug deals.[36]
Studios and subsidiaries

Over the years Zynga has acquired many studios across the world.

  • Zynga Headquarters (San Francisco, CA)
  • Zynga India (Bangalore, India)
  • Zynga Los Angeles - opened February, 2010 [38]
  • Zynga China (formerly XPD Media, based in Beijing) - acquired May, 2010
  • Zynga Austin (formerly Challenge Games) - acquired June, 2010
  • Zynga Boston (formerly Conduit Labs) - acquired August, 2010
  • Zynga Japan (formerly Unoh Games, based in Tokyo) - acquired August, 2010
  • Zynga Germany (formerly Dextrose AG, based in Frankfurt) - acquired September, 2010
  • Zynga Dallas (formerly Bonfire Studios) - acquired October, 2010
  • Zynga New York (formerly Area/Code) - acquired January, 2011
  • Zynga Seattle - opened October, 2010 [39]
  • Floodgate Entertainment - acquired March, 2011

While Zynga is currently based in San Francisco, the company is
threatening to relocate or expand elsewhere if San Francisco does not
offer the company a tax break.[40]

In its first years of existence, Zynga has been criticized on various fronts.
Spam concerns

Many of Zynga's games revolve around interacting with other players
for in-game benefits. Many non-players have notably complained about
such communications created by those games that appear to them as
"spammy." Peter Jamison described Zynga's communications as a "deluge"
of "unwanted gifts or requests for neighborly 'help.'"[41] Facebook groups created to express displeasure regarding overexposure of Zynga's games attracted millions of members.[32]
As a result of this, Facebook modified their application developers
policy to prevent applications from sending messages to news feeds of
friends or submitting updates to the notifications bar.[42][43] Kotaku attributed the removal of Facebook notifications to a decline of users of Zynga games in April and May 2010.[44]
Game quality

Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost criticized Zynga's apathy towards game aesthetics, comparing that apathy to "strip-mining."[41]
Critics like Nick Saint of Business Insider have said that Zynga's games have essentially the same mechanics even though they have different premises and settings.[43]
Replication of existing games

Zynga has been accused several times of copying game concepts of popular games by competing developers.[45][46]
The launch of Mafia Wars sparked a lawsuit from the makers of Mob Wars.[47] An attorney for Psycho Monkey, the creators of Mob Wars, said that in making Mafia Wars, Zynga "copied virtually every important aspect of the game."[48] The suit was settled out of court for $7–9 million.[49]
Ars Technica noted that Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City were "nearly identical"; Cafe World was released six months after Restaurant City. Its gameplay, design, graphics, avatars, and even in-game items are almost identical to the ones in Restaurant City. Many players who have played Restaurant City and Cafe World have noticed the extreme similarities between both games.[50] In addition, journalists have remarked that Zynga's FarmVille is similar to Farm Town, with Peter Jamison calling it "uncannily similar."[41][48]
Other companies have responded by copying Zynga's games as well. Playfish, publisher of Pet Society (a game similar to Zynga's Petville), announced the creation of Poker Rivals to rival Zynga Poker.[46] Playfish then launched a game called Gangster City, which is similar to Mafia Wars.

Many journalists have questioned the viability of Zynga's business
model. Ray Valdes questioned the long-term prospects for Zynga, saying
that it would be difficult for the company to make new titles to replace
old ones whose novelty is fading.[9] In December 2009, Tadhg Kelly, writing for Gamasutra,
said that Zynga was at the "end of the beginning," noting that Zynga's
business model is dependent on Facebook continuing to operate in the
same manner and users continuing to expect the same quality of games,
among others. Kelly also compared Zynga to Atari, which also churned out
large numbers of simple games prior to the North American video game crash of 1983 and further claimed that Zynga's approach of creating similar clones of popular games would be impossible for deeper games.[51]
Tom Bollich, a former Zynga investor, said that it is impossible to
make a cheap viral game, and that retaining customers is difficult.[41]
In September 2010, SF Weekly reported that an employee
recalled Mark Pincus advising him to "copy what [Zynga's competitors] do
and do it until you get their numbers."[41]
Zynga founder Mark Pincus has dismissed the criticisms, saying that
competing video game makers have always released similar titles for each
genre of game.[32]
The managing director of Lightspeed Venture Partners said that creating
similar competing games has "always been part of the game industry."[48]
Scam ads

Through 2009 Zynga made money from lead generation
advertising schemes, whereby game participants would earn game points
by signing up for featured credit cards or video-rental services. These
were criticized as being less cost-effective than simply buying game
points, and in some cases, being outright scams that would download
unwanted software or unwittingly sign up for a recurring subscription.[32] One ad signed up players for subscriptions to expensive and unwanted text-messaging services.[33]
On October 31, 2009, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch said that Zynga intentionally worked with scam advertisers, and that lead generation made up a third of Zynga's revenue.[52] Arrington also alleged that Facebook was complicit in this.[53] On November 2, 2009, CEO Mark Pincus announced a reform in its offers: Tatto Media,
a major offer provider that enrolled users into recurring cell phone
subscriptions, would be banned, all mobile offers would be removed, and
offer providers would be required to pre-screen offers.[54]
Arrington continued to question Pincus' role in the scams, republishing a video of a speech by Pincus.[55] In the speech, Pincus said:
So I funded [Zynga] myself but I did every horrible thing in the book
to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker
chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar which was like, I don't
know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs* We did
anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be
a real business.
—Mark Pincus, Speech from Startup@Berkeley
In response, Pincus noted that after offering the Zwinky toolbar, his team of ten decided to remove it since it was a "painful experience."[56]
Several days after the Techcrunch story, Zynga's most recent Facebook game FishVille, was temporarily taken offline by Facebook on claim of advertising violations. According to Zynga, Fishville
had 875,000 users within two days of launch. A release from Facebook on
its reasons for taking the game offline read that "FishVille will
remain suspended until Facebook is satisfied that Zynga demonstrates
compliance with Facebook restrictions — as well as Zynga’s own
restrictions — on the ads it offers users."[57] FishVille was later un-suspended at midnight November 9–10.[58]
Several suits were filed against Zynga for promoting such offers,[59][60] including the class-action lawsuit Swift v. Zynga in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for violation of the Unfair competition law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, after the lead plaintiff's credit card was billed more than $200 for offers she completed to receive YoVille currency.[61][62][63]
Pincus later said that he had been too eager to increase company
revenues through advertising, and that operating in reactive mode by
taking down ads only after receiving complaints had not worked. The
company removed all ads for a time, relying only on direct purchase of
game currency, then began reintroducing third party ads only after they
had been screened.[32]
Other criticism

In September 2009 Zynga was threatened with legal action by Nissan for using their trademarks in the game Street Racing.
Zynga subsequently renamed and changed the thumbnail images of all cars
that were branded Nissan and Infiniti to "Sindats" and "Fujis" with the
thumbnails changed.[64] At the time they also renamed and redesigned automobiles depicted as being made by GM, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Saab, and others.
In March 2009, CEO Mark Pincus admitted that Zynga has been running gambling affiliate ads in their Facebook games for a year.[65]
In late May 2010, the Norwegian Consumer Council filed a complaint to
the Data Inspectorate regarding breaches of the Data Protection Act.[66]
In August 2010, the San Francisco city attorney's office complained about the firm's guerrilla marketing campaign for its "Mafia Wars" game that pasted fake money on city sidewalks, calling it "vandalism".[67]
Intellectual property

In October 2010, Zynga was criticized on Hacker News[68] and other social media sites for having filed a patent application[69] relating to the ability to purchase virtual currency for cash on gambling and other gaming sites. Commentators said that significant prior art exists for the concept.
In January 2011, Techdirt reported that Zynga had sent a cease and desist
letter to Blingville alleging trademark infringement for its use of the
letters "ville" in the name of a proposed Facebook game. Blingville has
filed a suit for declaratory judgment that it is not infringing a Zynga trademark.[70] As reported in Gamasutra,
Jay Monahan of Zynga responded by saying that Blingville's "[use] of
the name 'BlingVille' is an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame
and goodwill associated with Zynga's family of 'ville' games which
includes FarmVille and CityVille".[71]
On May 20, 2011, it was reported that The Learning Company, owners of The Oregon Trail trademark, filed a trademark infringement suit against Zynga, who is planning an "Oregon Trail" expansion to FrontierVille.[72] The Learning Company had previously contacted Zynga about an Oregon Trail game on Facebook, but Zynga declined.[73] On May 24, Games.com writer Brandy Shaul wrote that Zynga was dropping the Oregon Trail name and soliciting new names for the expansion.[74]

In December 2009, Russia's Digital Sky Technologies bought a $180 million share of Zynga.[75]
In 2010, a combined $300 million from Softbank and Google were invested in Zynga.[33]
More recently, Zynga has been rumored to be close to a deal that
values the company at approximately $10 billion through a capital raise
from a group of investors that include mutual funds associated with T.
Rowe Price and Fidelity Investments. This round of funding would raise
$500 million in primary capital for the company.[76]
Zynga has been identified as a possible candidate for an IPO by 2013.[77]
Equity analysts have stated that their recent actions have made it
clear they are preparing themselves for an IPO in the near future.[76] On May 24, 2011, AllThingsD.com reported that Zynga was planning to file for an IPO within the week or two.[5]

  • Blackjack
  • Café World
  • CityVille
  • FarmVille
  • FarmVille (iPod)
  • FishVille
  • FrontierVille
  • Live Poker
  • Mafia Wars
  • Mafia Wars (iPod)
  • Pathwords
  • PetVille
  • Street Racing
  • Pirates: Rule the Caribbean!

  • Scramble (browser game)
  • Scramble (iPod)
  • Scramble Live
  • Sudoku
  • Texas Hold'Em Poker
  • Treasure Isle
  • Vampire Wars
  • Vampires: Bloodlust (iPod)
  • WarStorm
  • Word Twist
  • Yakuza Lords
  • YoVille

Games discontinued

  • Attack!
  • Dope Wars
  • Dragon Wars
  • Fashion Wars
  • Football
  • Gang Wars
  • Ghost Racer
  • Guild of Heroes
  • Heroes vs. Villains
  • Music Pets
  • My Heroes Ability
  • Ponzi Inc.
  • Prison Lockdown
  • Roller Coaster Kingdom
  • Space Wars
  • Special Forces
  • Street Racing[78]
  • Triumph
  • It Girl
  • Poker Blitz


Zynga started a charity sister company, Zynga.org, in charge of incorporating charitable contributions into its games.
For example, since at least October 2009, through its game FarmVille, Zynga offered special sugar beets which customers can purchase with real-world money. Proceeds from the donation go to two Haiti-based
charities: FATEM.org and FONKOZE.org. By October 20, the sugar beet
promotion had raised $427,000 and was expected to raise $2 million by
year's end.[79][80] Zynga used tie-ins via three of its top games to raise money for relief of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[81] Zynga offers special bulldogs in YoVille, the proceeds going to the San Francisco SPCA.[82][83]
On March 11, 2011, Zynga announced that 100% of proceeds from purchases of daikon in Farmville would go to Japan's Save the Children Earthquake Emergency Fund.[84]
On March 15, 2011, Zynga offered the purchase of a "Japanese
Countryside Home" in Yoville, also stating that 100% of proceeds would
go to Save the Children.[85] The company had been criticized in the past for keeping up to 50% of the donations it collected.[29]
Zynga games

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