developer Zynga announced Thursday its acquisition of Beijing-based social games studio XPD Media, marking the company's first step into the social gaming market in Asia.
With its purchase of the studio, Zynga will integrate XPD's team of 40 employees into its global workforce and task the group with focusing on engineering and product development. XPD's chief executive Robin Chan will take on the role of Zynga's GM of Asian business operations, and the Chinese firm's co-founder Andy Tian will lead Zynga's new Beijing studio.
Founded in early 2008, XPD is backed by True Ventures and Pilot Group, and is dedicated to developing social titles for both Asian and international social networks. With the acqusition, Zynga says it aims to gain a foothold in a fast-growing market, and access a new talent pool of developers.
Neither company has announced whether Zynga's new Beijing office will work specifically on games for the Asian market or for Western audiences as well, but the FarmVille
developer currently has no presence on any Asian social networks such as China's RenRen, Qzone, and 51.com. Those sites, however, already have many clones of popular Western titles.
The announcement of the acquisition comes just a few days after Zynga and Facebook announced a five-year agreement
on the management of virtual currency for games on the social network. The deal came only after weeks of reports about tensions between the companies and even rumors of a potential split, stemming from disagreements over Facebook's implementation of its universal virtual currency system Credits.
"As the largest Internet market in the world, China is at the vanguard for virtual goods based gaming innovation," says Zynga's Corporate Development VP Robert Goldberg. "We expect our new office in Beijing and the incredible talent in the local market to play a strategic role in our mission to create the best social gaming experiences worldwide."