Zynga plots its mobile stategy

February 28, 2011

Zynga wants to get into your pocket. As the  publisher of games like, “Word with Friends,” a Scrabble-clone popular on Apple devices and since February, on Android platforms, Zynga, known as the top games publisher on Facebook, is likely trying to reduce its reliance of Mark Zuckerberg and co’s platform.

“You should play and you should pay,” says David Ko, the former Yahoo executive who moved to Zynga in November to spearhead its mobile push.

 In a recent interview, Ko told Reuters that Zynga’s mobile strategy has two parts: Creating mobile versions of existing Web titles like “FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars” and, having users play games on their mobile devices before anywhere else, like on “Words with Friends.”

In the U.S, Ko says, mobile games are growing at a “high clip,”  but that the faster growth is in markets like South East Asia where people are turning to games first on their smartphones since PCs are less prevalent.

“In markets like South East Asia, mobile-first experiences are going to lead the way,” Ko says.

Next year,  users should expect a lot of different types of Zynga mobile games, Ko says. A franchise it could certainly tap is CityVille, which grew to 101 million users in no time but that has no current mobile version.

“With 250  million people playing our games per month—all of those people should have mobile opportunities if they want to,” Ko says.

While Zynga had a first mover advantage on Facebook, in the mobile realm,the farm is much more crowded. TinyCo, the maker of the game Tiny Chef received a not-so-tiny investment in the form of $18 million in venture capital funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by Ron Conway, Keith Rabois, and a handful of other angels investors.

 Photo courtesy of Zynga: Mafia Wars has already gone mobile.

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