Since then Zynga has had a roller coaster ride with many speculating as to what will come next. In the last year in particular there have been some fascinating chess moves by Zynga that have caught the attention of many.
Many have been disappointed with Zynga’s performance since their IPO listing in December 2011 because they have since lost over $5 billion due to the drop in price of the stock. At the time Zynga’s IPO listing was much talked about and it was the largest IPO listing since Google in 2004. However it is interesting to look back on the last year in which Zynga has been possibly planning for the ultimate prize in the online world, which is real-money gambling.
While Zynga earns millions in social gaming profits from hits such as Farmville and CastleVille, their aim is to get a larger share of the mobile casino and real money gambling market. Already way back in January Zynga’s chief Mobile Officer confirmed the acquisition of no less than four mobile video companies that included Page 44 Studios, HipLogic and Game Doctors.
Zynga however has always focused on the ever growing market of social-based casino games and already in February 2012 it launched another of their casino-based offerings Zynga Bingo on Facebook. This was the first real step that they made in an effort to have strong market brand dedicated solely to gambling like games.
Zynga Poker is considered by many in the online gambling world as the online game that could set the online poker world alight. Currently Zynga Poker is in the top 10 grossing games on Facebook’s overall games and is the world’s largest social online poker offering in the world with estimated of over 35 million monthly users.
While Zynga earns it millions from virtual currency which online players can purchase and exchange with each other, all their online casino free-to-play gameslook and feel exactly as the real-money gambling games look. This is no coincidence as Zynga has long recognized that while people seek social games there is also a huge market to satisfy of millions who enjoy the adrenalin and action of betting for real currency.
It is no coincidence that Zynga has expanded their casino based games in 2012 to include Zynga Slingo and Zynga Bingo in 2012. These were released soon after the groundbreaking decision of the U.S Justice Department on the Wire Act 0f 1961 in December 2011. This revised stance by the Justice Department has literally change the U.S. gambling industry and is set to have far reaching ramifications for the global gambling market. In effect this has led to a “gold rush” as there is no denying the unlimited potential of legalized online gambling in the United States. At the moment developments are happening on a daily basis and the situation is fluid. Not a day goes by where there are not reports of interested parties looking to get their share of the online gambling pie.
Already back at the beginning of the year CEO of Zynga was quoted at the Morgan Stanley TMT Conference as saying that he sees ‘mind blowing” possibilities in the online gambling market.
This was followed by what was then rumors and has since been confirmed of talks between Zynga and Land based casino company Wynn Resorts with the aim of partnering up for the seemingly inevitable U.S. online gambling market opening up.
Zynga went further in hiring a lobbyist firm Bay Bridge Strategies in May in which it was to lobby on “legislation pertaining to regulation and taxation of Internet gambling” and “Privacy and Internet policy.”
Zynga already in March identified the need to ease their dependency on social networks like Facebook and with this in mind launched their own website Zynga.com on March 01 this year in which anyone could access their multiple hit online games directly without need to go via Facebook.
This was seen by many as an excellent strategic step by Pincus who identified the need for Zynga to operate and market themselves independently.
At the time CEO Mark Pincus summarized their thinking of the Zynga.com website launch,”We built Zynga.com to give our players more ways to connect with each other and play great social games whether built by Zynga or other talented developers. Together with our platform partners, we look forward to bringing more play to the world on our platform.”
In June 2012 Zynga released their second mobile casino game, Zynga Slots online which was just another clever move to encroach on the millions of online slots players .This was seen as an excellent complimentary addition to their global hit Zynga Poker.
The most significant developments for Zynga have come out in the last few days where CEO Pincus was responding to questions at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference. While responding to criticism by many regarding a roller coaster ride since their IPO and the dramatic share price drop, Pincus pulled a rabbit out of the hat when he openly declared that Zynga would be concentrating on expanding their mobile presence as well as looking into real-money gambling options. These two major endeavors are seen by many as the chance for Pincus to silence critics and return Zynga to the expectations people had at the time of their IPO Launch.
The latest and most dramatic revelation to confirm Zynga’s ambitious real-money ambitions is the reports that they are already taking bids form gaming giants like Gtech2 and Playtech in order to convert their highly successful Zynga Poker into a real money-option as soon as it legally becomes possible to do so.
While looked at individually these developments in the last few months would not be so significant but looking at the entire picture retroactively, one has to be cynical to be believe that Zynga’s ultimate gamble will payoff in a big way in light of the current U.S. online gambling market opening up on a daily basis.
With reported revenues of over $321 million in the first Quarter of 2012 it remains to be seen what Pincus’ “mind-blowing” possibilities could yield for the social gaming giant in the real-money gambling world.
With the online global gambling market currently estimated at close to $40 billion, it is no surprise that the billions earned by Zynga and other social gaming companies are just a small sampling of what could be with real-money casino based games seemingly an option on the horizon.