The biggest name in online games for social networking has become Zynga.
With Facebook, MySpace and other sites having top games like Mafia Wars, Farmville and more, it’s no wonder Zynga is bent on becoming the “Google of Games.” Zynga’s CEO and founder, Mark Pincus, has told employees at the San Francisco-based firm that he envisions Zynga becoming an enduring Internet icon that is synonymous with fun.
In 2007, Pincus says, he saw the Web as still fledgling with only a few big-name services and not much else. He saw the opportunity to build an online entertainment empire. He compares those days to “search before there was Google.”
The company appears to be meeting that goal, having more top-trafficked games than all other game makers in the space combined. Zynga will pocket in the neighborhood of $835 million this year and already has over 2.5 million users to its credit. Amazingly, the games are free to play. Revenues come from “premium” add-ons that players can buy – such as gifts for friends in-game, virtual goods, etc.
Farmville is the company’s most popular game and allows players who want to bypass the effort of growing and selling enough crops to get the virtual currency to buy equipment, animals, etc. to do so by purchasing them with real-world money. When millions of users spend $3.50 or $5 to buy something, it adds up quickly.
The company now has nearly 1,000 employees and is looking to expand further, with openings for an additional 400 jobs. Zynga’s investors include Google, Facebook founder Marc Andressen, and other big names on the Web. Zynga is currently valued at about $4.5 billion.