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Zynga Acquires  Games With Friends  Developer Newtoy

Zynga Acquires Games With Friends Developer Newtoy

December 2, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

December 2, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Leading social game developer Zynga has acquired Newtoy, developer of the With Friends series of iPhone games and co-developer with Ngmoco of We Rule, saying the deal will help it address what it sees as "the next great frontier for social gaming."

Zynga's mobile games VP, David Ko, broke the news on a conference call to media today. While the value of the acquisition was not disclosed, Ko said Zynga knew there was plenty of opportunity to grow in the mobile space when it saw the success of FarmVille on iOS, which saw 7 million downloads.

"We have more than 10 million people per month accessing Zynga games on a mobile device," said Ko. "We've had some great success on the mobile front, but we are just getting started."

That's where Texas-based Newtoy, founded in 2008 by Ensemble Studios veterans Paul and David Bettner, comes in. Ko particularly cited the talent Zynga saw in Newtoy's 23-person team, along with its "highly engaged" community: the Games With Friends franchise sees "millions of monthly active users playing for more than an hour every day," Ko said.

"Since the first time I met Mark Pincus and we started talking... it has been clear to me that Zynga and Newtoy share the same dream of building a social treasure," said Newtoy's Paul Bettner on the call.

Bettner was doubtless addressing implicit questions of cultural conflict between the smaller Newtoy and the Zynga empire, which has drawn widespread discussion and speculation for its metrics-driven model and founder Pincus' innovation-averse reputation.

But the Bettners are enthusiastic about creative opportunities in their new partnership: "It seems that Mark and I share a very similar mindset," Better assured. "I remember coming away from that meeting and... saying, 'wow, guys, this company feels just like us.'"

According to Bettner, the two companies have already been working together under the radar, with the planned acquisition codenamed "Jetpack" to represent the potential of goal acceleration for both companies. Newtoy's studio will be re-christened "Zynga With Friends," after the acquisition

Asked whether Zynga is turning to mobile games to supplement its business in the face of squelched viral channels and user attrition on Facebook, it's primary empire, Ko said strides into a new space were "less about that. Users now expect, when you launch something on the PC, to have the ability to access something similar to that on mobile today."

"So the approaches based on platform may vary... we are seeing that it's not a slowdown, it's more from the fact that users have an expectations to play games and be social wherever you are on any device and any platform," he concluded.

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