Zynga, maker of FarmVille on Facebook, buys Newtoy in play for mobile
Showing it is highly focused on conquering mobile the way it has the personal computer, Zynga Game Network Inc., the biggest maker of games on Facebook Inc. including FarmVille, said Thursday it had bought Texas mobile-game company Newtoy Inc.
Newtoy makes such popular games as Words With Friends on the iPhone, a Scrabble-like game.
Five months ago, the San Francisco-based social-gaming juggernaut launched FarmVille on the iPhone. Since then, the game has been downloaded more than 7 million times. Overall, more than 10 million access Zynga games on mobile devices each month.
That's actually small fry for Zynga, which has more than 215 million monthly active users playing its games mostly on Facebook. But its ambitions are much grander.
David Ko, senior vice president of mobile games, said the company's goal was to make it possible to play its games anywhere. "It is increasingly clear that mobile is the next great frontier for social gaming," he said.
Zynga has snapped up seven gaming companies in seven months, but this was the first focused on mobile. The Newtoy deal comes after Japan's DeNA bought iPhone-game-maker Ngmoco for $403 million. Zynga has expanded to Japan, home to a trove of mobile-gaming companies. Zynga raised money from SoftBank to create Zynga Japan to help gain a foothold there. The move is part of a major global initiative to extend its gaming empire beyond Facebook. Its new game, CityVille, which went live this week, is already available in five languages.
Newtoy's headquarters in McKinney, Texas, will become the Zynga With Friends Studio, a new game studio. It has 23 people on staff. Newtoy chief executive and co-founder Paul Bettner will be vice president and general manager of the studio, reporting to Ko. Bettner founded Newtoy in 2008 with his brother David Bettner.
Zynga was one of the first companies to spot the potential of building on Facebook in 2007, plunging into the lucrative market for social gaming and virtual goods. Its biggest hit is FarmVille, in which people farm land with their friends.
-- Jessica Guynn