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Zynga Inc. /ˈzɪŋɡə/ is an American social game developer running social video game services founded in April 2007 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States.[1] The company develops social games that work stand-alone on mobile phone platforms such as Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone and on the Internet through its website,, and the social networking website Facebook.[5] Zynga states its mission as "connecting the world through games."[6]

Zynga Inc.
Zynga logo.jpg
Type of site
Traded as
Founded March 2007; 11 years ago (2007-03)[1]
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
Area served Worldwide
Owner Mark Pincus (~70% voting power)
Key people
Industry Video game industry
Revenue Increase US$ 861.39 million (2017)
Operating income Increase US$ 25.72 million (2017)
Net income Increase US$ 26.64 million (2017)
Total assets Increase US$ 1.98 billion (2017)
Total equity Increase US$ 1.64 billion (2017)
Employees 1,555 (2017)
Registration Yes
Users Decrease 72 million monthly active users
20 million daily active users (Q1 2017)
[nb 1][2][3][4]

Zynga launched its best-known game, FarmVille, on Facebook in June 2009,[7] reaching 10 million daily active users (DAU) within six weeks.[8] As of August 2017 Zynga had 30 million monthly active users (MAU).[9] In 2017 its most successful games were Zynga Poker, Words With Friends 2, with about 57 million games being played at any given moment,[10] [11] and CSR Racing 2, the most popular racing game on mobile devices.[12]

Zynga began trading on NASDAQ December 16, 2011[13] under the ticker ZNGA. [14]



Mark Pincus,[15] Eric Schiermeyer, Justin Waldron, Michael Luxton, Steve Schoettler, and Andrew Trader[2] co-founded Zynga in April 2007 under the name Presidio Media. [16] The company name changed to Zynga in July 2007.[1] [17] Zynga was named after Pincus' American bulldog "Zinga." [18][19] The company uses an image of a bulldog as its logo. Zynga's first game, Texas Hold'Em Poker, now known as Zynga Poker, was released on Facebook in July 2007. It was the first game Facebook introduced on its social networking platform.[20]

Zynga became the Facebook app developer with the most monthly active users in April 2009, with 40 million people playing their games that month.[21] Soon after, the company opened its first external game studio in Baltimore, Zynga East, led by Brian Reynolds.[22] In June of the same year, Zynga acquired MyMiniLife which then built and launched FarmVille on Facebook. By August it was the first game on Facebook to reach 10 million daily active users.[23] A little over 6 months later, in February 2008, Farmville had over 80 million players.[24] On November 23, 2009, went live as Zynga’s first stand-alone game.[25] On May 18, 2010, Facebook and Zynga entered into a five-year relationship to expand the use of Facebook Credits in Zynga's games.[26]

In December 2010, Zynga's game CityVille surpassed FarmVille as its most popular game[27] with over 61 million monthly active users and a base of over 16 million daily active users.[28]

Zynga filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to raise up to $1 billion in an initial public offering on July 1, 2011. At the time, the company had 2,000 employees.[29] Zynga began trading on NASDAQ on December 16, 2011.[30]

On June 26, 2012, during the Zynga Unleashed conference, Zynga announced the "Zynga With Friends" network, aiming to connect players of Zynga game titles across multiple platforms.[31] Zynga also announced the Zynga API, intended to help developers build social games.[32] The company announced that three new partners were developing games for including 50 Cubes, Majesco Entertainment and Portalarium. The company unveiled the Zynga Partners for Mobile program to help increase Zynga’s presence on mobile devices.[33]

On June 3, 2013, Zynga announced layoffs of 520 employees — roughly 18 percent of its workforce — and close offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas.[34][35] By July 2013, Zynga has reportedly lost nearly half of its user base from the previous year. Consequently, investors decreased Zynga's valuation by 400 million.[36] On July 25, 2013, Zynga said they would not be pursuing real money game production in the US. Following this announcement, shares dropped 13%.[37]

In July 2013 Zynga hired Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment President Don Mattrick as its new CEO.[38] [39] Pincus remained as Zynga’s chairman and chief product officer.[40] [41]

In January 2014, the company announced announced the layoff of 314 workers, about 15% of its total workforce.[42] [43] In April 2014, founder & former CEO Pincus stepped down from his role as chief product officer. He remained as Chairman of the Board.[44]

First quarter results for 2014 showed daily active user numbers fell from 53 million to 28 million year-over-year.[45] In April 2014 the company also announced its new hire of Alex Garden, co-founder of Relic Entertainment and former Microsoft Game Studios executive.[46]

In July 2014, Zynga signed a lease for office space in Maitland, Florida, near Orlando. Less than one year later the office in Orlando closed.[47][48]

Don Mattrick left Zynga in April of 2015, replaced by predecessor Mark Pincus.[49]

Zynga headquarters in San Francisco in 2016

Frank Gibeau took over as CEO on March 7, 2016, with Pincus once again stepping aside. Gibeau's last position was as head of mobile for Electronic Arts. Before that he was President of Labels at EA, overseeing a large studio organization developing games for EA's top franchises. Gibeau joined EA in 1991 and rose through the marketing organization before stepping into his first studio role in 2008. He joined Zynga's Board of Directors in August, 2015.[50][51]

As of January 2018 Zynga had 1,681 employees,[52] approximately 80 million monthly active users,[53] [54] and a market capitalization of $3.39 billion.[55] According to the company, Zynga has had over one billion people play its games since its inception in 2007.[56]


Date Games Company New Name Price Country Footnotes
July 2008 Yoville cb USA [57][58]
Feb 2010 Serious Business USA [59]
Feb 2010 Los Angeles, CA


Feb 2010 Bangalore,


May 2010 XPD Media Beijing,


Aug 2010 Unoh Games Zynga Japan Tokyo,


June 2010 Challenge Games Zynga Austin Austin, Texas


June 2010 Frontierville Zynga East Timonium, MD


Aug 2010 Conduit Labs Zynga Boston Cambridge, MA


Sept 2010 Aves Engine

(Game engine technology)

Dextrose AG Zynga Germany Frankfurt,


Oct 2010 Bonfire Studios Zynga Dallas Dallas, Texas


Dec 2010 Words with Friends;

Chess with Friends

Newtoy, Inc. Zynga with Friends McKinney, Texas


Jan 2011 CSI: Crime City

Parking Wars


Area/Code Zynga New York New York,


March 2011 MoPets;

Madden 2005 and 2006;

Nascar 07;

Pirates of the Caribbean;


Floodgate Entertainment Boston,


Jan 2011 Social browser Flock [76]
April 2011 MarketZero Austin, Texas


March 2012 Draw Something OMGPOP $180 million [77][78]
June 2012 Tomb Raider;

Tony Hawk

Buzz Monkey Oregon,


Sept 2012 Lucky Train A Bit Lucky $20 million+ [80][81]
Nov 2012 Battlestone November Software [82]
June 2013 Wizard of Oz;

Hit it Rich Slots

Spooky Cool Labs [83]
Jan 2014 CSR Racing;

Clumsy Ninja

NaturalMotion $527 million Oxford,

United Kingdom

March 2015 Solitaire;



Spider Solitaire

Harpan, LLC $42.5 million [85]
June 2015 Product Incubator SuperLabs $1.00 [86]
Nov 2017 Casual card games Peak Games $100 million Turkey [87]


According to the company’s first-ever earnings report, revenues from advertising and the sale of virtual goods grew by 59 percent compared with the same period the prior year. A net loss of $435 million included a one-time $510 million employee stock compensation expense that was triggered by the company going public.[88]

The company's top three games – FarmVille, FrontierVille and CityVille – accounted for 57 percent of online game revenue. Total revenue was $329 million for the quarter ending March 31, 2012.[89]

Zynga approached a billion dollars in revenue in four years since inception, surpassing the market value of the longtime console game company Electronic Arts. Zynga's rapid growth has been seen as an indicator of the vastly different playing field from only a few years before, where games have become able to gain significant public acceptance in a shorter period of time, with the cost of entry being much lower.[90]

On July 25, 2012, Zynga reported revenue of $332 million for its Q2 2012, which was up 19 percent year over year, and reported that Q2 bookings increased 10 percent year over year.[91] However, the company also reported a net income loss of $22.8 million,[92] and reduced forecast for bookings for 2012 from 1.47 billion to 1.15 billion.[93] Following Zynga’s weak Q2 2012 earnings, Zynga’s stock dropped by 40 percent in after hours trading,[94] and analysts heavily criticized Zynga,[91][93] with Richard Greenfield of BTIG taking the rare step of apologizing for having recommended the stock.[95][96] Zynga executives listed several reasons for the Q2 earnings: changes to Facebook's gaming platform that hindered Zynga users; a delayed release for an important new game; and several new games that didn’t meet expectations.[93]

In late October 2012, Zynga's stock price increased as much as 16 percent[97] after it had posted revenues of $317 million during its third quarter, beating estimates of $256 million.[98] Its revenue boost and stock price jump was a result of Zynga's $200 million share buyback plan that the company decided to instill to help improve its recent stock price declines.[99] Another factor included Zynga's announcement that it was moving into real-money gambling in the U.K.[100] While acknowledging Zynga’s continuing challenges such as slowing sales and its low stock price, some analysts were more upbeat after the Q3 2012 earnings than they had been after Q2 2012 earnings were announced. “Every single thing that they are doing is what you would want them to do,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities Inc.[100] Comparing Q2 to Q3 earnings conference calls, journalists noted a change in former CEO Pincus’ tone. “Instead of blaming an uncertain economy, wandering consumer tastes or a weird alignment between Jupiter and Mars, the former CEO's message to Wall Street was clear: Blame us,” wrote CNET.[101]

In early 2013, Zynga former CEO Mark Pincus announced that FarmVille, one of Zynga's most popular games, had reached $1 billion in total player bookings.[102]

Business modelEdit

Zynga is supported in two manners: via direct credit card payments and partner businesses.[103][104] Several Zynga games require an "Energy" characteristic to play. Engaging in "Missions", a core feature of many games, consumes a certain amount of energy. After expending energy, it slowly replenishes to the character's maximum limit. This can take minutes or several hours (energy replenishes whether or not players are logged into the game). After energy is replenished, players can engage in additional missions. Waiting for energy to replenish is a significant limiting factor in the games. Their support mechanisms take advantage of this. Zynga games are linked to offers from a number of partners. Players can accept credit card offers, take surveys or buy services from Zynga's partners in order to obtain game credits, which would allow them to replenish their character's energy or receive premium currency that could be exchanged for other various virtual goods. Players may also purchase game credits directly from Zynga via credit cards[103] or PayPal. From within the game, players can purchase the points for a fee: US$5.00 for 21 game credits, for example. In March 2010 Zynga started selling prepaid cards for virtual currency at more than 12,800 stores across the US.[105]

Zynga also sells advertising sponsorships within some games such as movie tie-ins and other brands.[106] In March, 2012, Zynga announced it launched a separate social gaming platform, which will include publishing other developers to the new platform. Early third-party developers include Row Sham Bow, Inc and Mobscience.[107] In June, 2012 Zynga started running Facebook advertisements and sponsored stories on its website. The revenue is to be split between Facebook and Zynga, as they continue their partnership. The exact percentage of this split has yet to be disclosed.[108]

Hasbro partnershipEdit

In February 2012, it was announced that Zynga and Hasbro had partnered to create products based on Zynga properties and brands.[109] In October 2012, Zynga and Hasbro launched eight ‘face-to-face’ games resulting from their collaboration: FarmVille Hungry Hungry Herd and Animal Games; CityVille Monopoly and Skies; Words With Friends Classic, Luxe, To Go; and Draw Something.[110] The Hasbro games include ties to Zynga Web and mobile games, such as in-game currency that players can use in the digital versions of CityVille and FarmVille.[110]

Real-money gamingEdit

In October 2012, Zynga announced a partnership with, an international real-money gaming operator, to launch real-money gaming in the U.K.,[111] including the release of online poker, a suite of 180 casino games, and the first online FarmVille-branded real money slots game during 2013.[111][100] The partnership opens up a potentially lucrative new revenue stream for Zynga.[112]

Customer acquisitionEdit

Customer acquisition is key to Zynga's business. Zynga's customer acquisition was largely built on Facebook initially and most of its new users came in through incentivized viral loops. However, in addition to viral acquisition, Zynga has also invested in paid marketing.[113]

Initially, however, when Zynga was three or four people and they launched Texas Hold'em on the brand new Facebook Platform, they didn't spend any marketing dollars.[114]

In recent times, though, Facebook has been tightening up. Zynga's customer acquisition was perceived as spam by Facebook and the new rules have limited the rate at which Zynga can acquire users. In general, Zynga owes a lot of its growth to incentivizing users to send invitations to their friends on the Facebook platform. However, these incentives were usually artificial and not directly tied to the value proposition of the product. As a result, the indiscriminate usage of the virality that Facebook offered led to users getting spammed resulting in a backlash from users.[115]

Overall, Zynga grew very fast but its marketing has always been expensive[116] and it is now further threatened owing to its over-dependence on Facebook.

Platinum Purchase ProgramEdit

In September 2010, Gawker reported that Zynga had set up a "Platinum Purchase Program" allowing members to purchase virtual currency in amounts over $500 at favorable rates by making a payment via wire transfer. In contrast, the normal maximum purchase limits are $50 to $200.[117] As with other social game companies, Zynga depends on a small core of large spenders, known within the industry as "whales", for a large part of its income.[118] Ryan Tate, author of the post, speculated that the program was a way for gaming addicts to feed their obsession, and compared the secrecy of the program to the secrecy of drug deals.[117]


Many journalists have questioned the viability of Zynga's business model. Ray Valdes questioned the long-term prospects for Zynga, saying that it would be difficult for the company to make new titles to replace old ones whose novelty is fading.[18] In December 2009, Tadhg Kelly, writing for Gamasutra, said that Zynga was at the "end of the beginning," noting that Zynga's business model is dependent on Facebook continuing to operate in the same manner and users continuing to expect the same quality of games, among others. Kelly also compared Zynga to Atari, which also churned out large numbers of simple games prior to the North American video game crash of 1983 and further claimed that Zynga's approach of creating similar clones of popular games would be impossible for deeper games.[119] Tom Bollich, a former Zynga investor, said that it is impossible to make a cheap viral game, and that retaining customers is difficult.[120]

In an October 2011 article in The Wall Street Journal, Ben Levisohn said that Zynga has "issues that could limit its upside," such as its dependence on Facebook and its reliance on a small percentage of users and a small number of games for most of its revenue.[121]

In July 2012, after announcing disappointing second quarter results, some analysts speculated that the sale of virtual items may not be a long-term, viable business model.[93] Analyst Richard Greenfield downgraded Zynga from "buy" to "neutral" in an article titled "We are sorry and embarrassed by our mistake."[93] Zynga executives have said the company is taking steps to turn its business around, which includes introducing new Web, mobile, and multiplayer games and developing a gambling game to be introduced outside the U.S.[122][123] The company is also working to increase advertising revenues, which were up 45 percent in Q2 2012 compared to the previous quarter and increased 170 percent year over year.[124] Advertising “will likely become a crucial revenue stream for the company,” according to Ad Age.[124]

Zynga was listed in the article "The top 10 tech 'fails' of 2012".[125]

Scam adsEdit

Through 2009, Zynga made money from lead generation advertising schemes, whereby game participants would earn game points by signing up for featured credit cards or video-rental services. These were criticized as being less cost-effective than simply buying game points, and in some cases, being outright scams that would download unwanted software or unwittingly sign up for a recurring subscription.[103] One ad signed up players for subscriptions to expensive and unwanted text-messaging services.[104]

On October 31, 2009, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch said that Zynga intentionally worked with scam advertisers, and that lead generation made up a third of Zynga's revenue.[126] Arrington also alleged that Facebook was complicit in this.[127] On November 2, 2009, former CEO Mark Pincus announced a reform in its offers: Tatto Media, a major offer provider that enrolled users into recurring cell phone subscriptions, would be banned, all mobile offers would be removed, and offer providers would be required to pre-screen offers.[128]

Arrington continued to question Pincus' role in the scams, republishing a video of a speech by Pincus.[129] In the speech, Pincus said:

So I funded [Zynga] myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar which was like, I don't know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs* We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business.

— Mark Pincus, Speech from Startup@Berkeley

In response, Pincus noted that after offering the Zwinky toolbar, his team of ten decided to remove it since it was a "painful experience".[130]

Several days after the Techcrunch story, Zynga's most recent Facebook game, FishVille, was temporarily taken offline by Facebook on claim of advertising violations. According to Zynga, Fishville had 875,000 users within two days of launch. A release from Facebook on its reasons for taking the game offline read that "FishVille will remain suspended until Facebook is satisfied that Zynga demonstrates compliance with Facebook restrictions – as well as Zynga’s own restrictions – on the ads it offers users."[131] The FishVille suspension was lifted less than 24 hours later.[132]

Several suits were filed against Zynga for promoting such offers,[133][134] including the class-action lawsuit Swift v. Zynga in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for violation of the Unfair competition law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, after the lead plaintiff's credit card was billed more than $200 for offers she completed to receive YoVille currency.[135][136][137]

Pincus later said that he had been too eager to increase company revenues through advertising, and that operating in reactive mode by taking down ads only after receiving complaints had not worked. The company removed all ads for a time, relying only on direct purchase of game currency, then began reintroducing third party ads only after they had been screened.[103]

Corporate cultureEdit

Zynga HQ

In 2011, Zynga started to move employees to new headquarters, located in San Francisco's South of Market district.[138] Zynga’s headquarters, nicknamed “The Dog House,”[139] features a coffee shop, gaming arcade, gym, basketball court, and wellness center.[140] At its San Francisco headquarters, Zynga Founder Pincus's goal was to create a "playful gaming environment" that evokes a "fantasy land."[139] Zynga employees, also referred to as “Zyngites,” enjoy perks such as free gourmet meals, access to an in-house nutritionist, and personal training.[141]

Zynga operates as a meritocracy in which employees are encouraged to be and are compensated for being great entrepreneurs. The company works hard to be a ‘flat organization.’ Pincus stated that Zynga is “searching for leaders” and they encourage employees to ‘break the rules.’ The company expects workers to fix what they are unhappy with, thus making the workplace better for everyone.[142]

Pincus stated that Zynga is “building a house that we want to live in.” He meets with new hires about every two weeks and speaks with them for about 90 minutes, in an open question and answer format. He discusses the company’s values, and he encourages the new employees to challenge those values.[142]

Women at Zynga, launched in 2011, is an employee-led resource group that focuses on empowering women to succeed and become leaders in their careers and communities. According to Stephanie Hess, VP of Communications at Zynga, who also leads Women at Zynga, the group strives to attract, hire and retain top female talent.[143] Women at Zynga also organizes events of special interest to women.[144] [145]

The Christian Science Monitor recognized the company’s efforts to use a storytelling model to recognize the diversity of women employees.[146]

Zynga has a “family first” atmosphere and is “kid friendly” for child visitors. The company has seasonal events, such as a Halloween party to which employees bring their children. Employees feel supported professionally as well as personally. The company believes that “allowing employees to be present in all parts of their life will lead to more productivity in the workplace and beyond.” Zynga also “encourages flexibility and supports employees’ personal growth.” [145] The company also supports employees with infertility issues.[147]

Zynga offers mothers 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, and fathers/partners can take 12 weeks of fully-paid parental leave. The company also offers free, onsite, gym and fitness classes, free breakfast and lunch each day, a shuttle service to the Bay Area Rapid Transit and CalTrain in San Francisco. The company also has “relaxation lounges” and arcade and console games, dry cleaning services on-site, and indoor bicycle parking. Each of the different locations offer different benefits to a certain extent. In general, the company is highly “dog-friendly” where “Every day is ‘bring your dog to work day.’” Employees who own dogs can receive treats for them, pet insurance and a dog park on the roof.[148] There is also a “Take as much time off as you need” policy.[149] The ‘Blue Bottle Café’ offers free specialty coffee served by baristas.[150] Zynga’s culinary program is based on friends cooking for friends, including the menu planning and cooking process.[151]

Prior to the company’s 2011 IPO, when Pincus was still CEO, Zynga’s corporate culture received some negative media attention for renegotiating the equity packages of four senior employees.[152] Those employees were required to either give up part of their non-vested stock or be fired.[153] Although a San Francisco employment lawyer said in The Wall Street Journal that Zynga's actions would violate the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, no court has ruled on the issue since it has been rare for companies to demand non-vested stock as a condition of continued employment.[153] Pincus later explained that Zynga

wanted to find them another position at the company versus just parting ways. They had the option to leave and have a package, as happened with some other leaders, but we in addition to that offered them other positions at the company that came with different forward compensation.[152]

In November 2011, The New York Times reported that Zynga “operates like a federation of city-states” with each of its games, such as FarmVille and CityVille, run by autonomous teams. This culture reportedly fostered “fierce internal competition” and caused some employees to complain about long hours and stressful deadlines.[154] Two former senior Zynga employees, quoted anonymously by the Times, speculated that Zynga’s corporate culture caused the company to lose a bid to acquire mobile game company PopCap and nearly derailed its acquisition of MyMiniLife, which later developed the technology that is the basis for FarmVille. At least one Zynga employee said he planned to cash out and leave Zynga after the IPO.[154]

When asked about the criticisms Zynga had received for its workplace environment, Pincus said the company strives to be a meritocracy[154] with a culture of leveling up through promotions. Pincus’s management philosophy is to “turn people into CEOs,” encouraging employees to identify and fully own “something really meaningful” to the company.[155] The CEO's philosophy is part of the Zynga meritocracy in which employees are rewarded for results. Pincus told The New York Times:

The only way people will have the trust to give their all to their job is if they feel like their contribution is recognized and valued. And if they see somebody else higher above them just because of a good résumé, or they see somebody else promoted who they don’t think deserves it, you’re done.[155]

In February 2013, Chief Game Designer Brian Reynolds discussed company culture positively in a post for VentureBeat at the time of his exit from Zynga. saying "the capability to absorb and adapt to change quickly is one of the great strengths of Zynga’s culture – the true meaning of the motto and occasional battle cry Zynga Speed!" among other comments.[156]

In 2017 Zynga donated a large sum to the University of Southern California to support the study of social mobile games, inclusive game production, and advancing diversity in the industry.[157]


In 2017 Entrepreneur magazine recognized Zynga as one of 11 companies which offer benefits to employees with fertility issues.[158]

Huffington Post recognized Women at Zynga as a group that embodies the company’s commitment to gender diversity.[159]

Relationship with FacebookEdit

On July 18, 2011, Zynga filed an addendum to its Form S-1 detailing its relationship with Facebook, including the 2010 five-year agreement to use Facebook credits exclusively. According to the released information, all covered Zynga games that use Facebook integration must remain exclusive to Facebook for the duration of the agreement, and Zynga is not allowed to release new games on an undisclosed list of other social networks. Also, Zynga is required to notify Facebook of any new games at least one week prior to their release. Finally, Facebook agrees to help Zynga reach "certain growth targets for monthly unique users of Covered Zynga Games".[160][161]

On October 11, 2011, Zynga announced plans to create their own platform in which users can play the company's games. Although the platform, Project Z, will still have major ties to Facebook it is believed to be the first major step away from the social media giant.[162]

Facebook’s S-1 Filing indicates Zynga generated 12% of Facebook’s revenue in 2011.[163][164]

In November 2012, Facebook ended its special agreement with Zynga. Effective March 31, 2013, Zynga was bounded by the standard Facebook Platform policies.[165]

Owned studiosEdit


In the fall of 2010 Zynga signed a rental agreement for 270,000 square feet (25,000 m2) of office space at the site of former Sega offices.[166] In 2012 the company purchased the entire building, with about 407,000 square feet of total space, for $228 million. The building was reported to be worth about $500 million in 2016. [167] [168]

Active studiosEdit

Name Description Date



(offices in Brighton and London)

Acquired Boss Alien in 2014 when Zynga bought NaturalMotion

for a company record of $527 million. NaturalMotion had

purchased Boss Alien in the summer of 2012.

2014 [169][170][171]
Zynga Chicago Zynga acquired Spooky Cool Labs June 2013 [172]
Zynga ATX Formerly MarketZero April 2011 [173]
Zynga Austin Formerly Challenge Games June 2010 [174]
Zynga Eugene Formerly Buzz Monkey Software June 2012 [175]
Zynga India Bangalore, India February 2010 [176]
Zynga Ireland 2011 [177]
Zynga Toronto Formerly Five Mobile July 2011 [178]
Zynga Turkey Zynga acquired Peak Games' casual card portfolio in 2017 November 2017 [179]
Zynga San Diego

Former studiosEdit

Name Description Date


Date Closed Footnotes
OMGPop Draw Something creators March 2012 June 2013 [180][181]
Floodgage Entertainment March 2011 October 2012 [182][183]
Wild Needle A casual games company that makes

games which appeal to women/girls

May 2012 [184]
Zynga with Friends Formerly Newtoy, Inc., based in McKinney, Texas November 2010 June 2013 [185][186][187]
Zynga Boston Formerly Conduit Labs August 2010 October 2012 [188]
Zynga China Formerly XPD Media, based in Beijing May 2010 February 2015 [189][190]
Zynga Dallas Formerly Bonfire Studios October 2010 June 2013 [191][192]
Zynga Germany Formerly Dextrose AG, based in Frankfurt September 2010 [193]
Zynga East Based in Baltimore, Maryland May 2009 February 2013 [194]
Zynga Japan Formerly Unoh Games, based in Tokyo August 2010 January 2013 [195] [196]
Zynga Los Angeles February 2010 June 2013 [197] [198][199]
Zynga New York Formerly Area/Code January 2011 June 2013 [200][201]
Page 44 Studios September 2011 [202]
Zynga Seattle October 2010 January 2014 [203][204]
Rising Tide Games September 2015 [205]
Zindagi Games February 2016 [206]
NaturalMotion (Oxford) January 2014 October 2017 [207]

Reception and controversiesEdit

Spam concernsEdit

Many of Zynga's games involve players posting messages to non-players, often for in-game benefits. Many non-players have notably complained about such communications created by those games that appear to them as "spammy." Peter Jamison described Zynga's communications as a "deluge" of "unwanted gifts or requests for neighborly 'help'".[120] Facebook groups created to express displeasure regarding overexposure of Zynga's games attracted millions of members.[103] As a result of this, Facebook modified their application developers policy to prevent applications from sending messages to news feeds of friends or submitting updates to the notifications bar.[208][209] Kotaku attributed the removal of Facebook notifications to a decline of users of Zynga games in April and May 2010.[210]

Intellectual property controversies and litigationEdit

Zynga has been accused several times of copying game concepts of popular games by competing developers.[211][212] The launch of Mafia Wars sparked a lawsuit from the makers of Mob Wars.[213] An attorney for Psycho Monkey, the creators of Mob Wars, said that in making Mafia Wars, Zynga "copied virtually every important aspect of the game."[214] The suit was settled out of court for $7–9 million.[215] An Ars Technica column said that Zynga's Café World and Playfish's Restaurant City were "nearly identical"; Café World was released six months after Restaurant City. Its gameplay, design, graphics, avatars, and even in-game items are almost identical to the ones in Restaurant City. Many players who have played Restaurant City and Café World have noticed the extreme similarities between both games.[216] In addition, journalists have remarked that Zynga's FarmVille is similar to Farm Town, with Peter Jamison calling it "uncannily similar."[120][214]

In September 2010, SF Weekly reported that an employee recalled Mark Pincus advising him to "copy what [Zynga's competitors] do and do it until you get their numbers."[120] NimbleBit founder Ian Marsh has accused Zynga of copying its award-winning Tiny Tower game to create Dream Heights.[217][218] Within a week, Buffalo Studios alleged that its game Bingo Blitz was copied by Zynga in making Zynga Bingo.[219] Pincus responded by saying that tower-building games have existed since SimTower (1994) and that Zynga uses mechanics and ideas developed throughout the history of video games to create "best in market games". He added that Bingo Blitz has similarities to the discontinued Zynga game Poker Blitz.[220] In response, Marsh argued that other tower games like SimTower and Tower Bloxx are substantially different from Tiny Tower and Dream Heights, and that Zynga copied Tiny Tower's "core gameplay mechanics and rules" and tutorial steps.[221] Inside Social Games writer Pete Davison said that although Zynga's The Ville is "not a complete clone" of The Sims Social, it was "very similar".[222]

Zynga founder Mark Pincus has dismissed the criticisms, saying that competing video game makers have always released similar titles for each genre of game.[103] The managing director of Lightspeed Venture Partners said that creating similar competing games has "always been part of the game industry."[214] Following Zynga's January 2012 release of Hidden Chronicles, Paul Tassi of Forbes wrote that Zynga "refuses to innovate in any way, and is merely a follower when it comes to ideas and game design."[223] In September 2009 Zynga was threatened with legal action by Nissan for using their trademarks in the game Street Racing. Zynga subsequently renamed and changed the thumbnail images of all cars that were branded Nissan and Infiniti to "Sindats" and "Fujis" with the thumbnails changed.[224] At the time they also renamed and redesigned automobiles depicted as being made by GM, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Saab, and others. In September 2009, Zynga initiated trade secrets lawsuits against Playdom and 22 other rivals,[225] including Green Patch which Playdom acquired in November 2009. These lawsuits were finally settled in November 2010.[226] In October 2010, Zynga was criticized on Hacker News[227] and other social media sites for having filed a patent application[228] relating to the ability to purchase virtual currency for cash on gambling and other gaming sites. Commentators said that significant prior art exists for the concept.

In January 2011, Techdirt reported that Zynga had sent a cease and desist letter to Blingville alleging trademark infringement for its use of the letters "ville" in the name of a proposed Facebook game. Blingville has filed a suit for declaratory judgment that it is not infringing a Zynga trademark.[229] As reported in Gamasutra, Jay Monahan of Zynga responded by saying that Blingville's "[use] of the name 'BlingVille' is an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and goodwill associated with Zynga's family of 'ville' games which includes FarmVille and CityVille".[230] In November 2011, Inside Mobile Apps wrote that Zynga's lawyers demanded that mobile game developer Latman Interactive abandon its trademark registration for the game Quackville.[231] Night Owl Games has also filed a lawsuit for declaratory judgment that its game Dungeonville does not infringe any Zynga trademarks after Zynga protested Night Owl's registration of the Dungeonville trademark.[232] In May 2012, Zynga sued Kobojo for trademark infringement for calling one of its games PyramidVille.[233][234]

On May 20, 2011, it was reported that The Learning Company, owners of The Oregon Trail trademark, filed a trademark infringement suit against Zynga, which is planning an "Oregon Trail" expansion to FrontierVille.[235] The Learning Company had previously contacted Zynga about an Oregon Trail game on Facebook, but Zynga declined.[236] On May 24, writer Brandy Shaul wrote that Zynga was dropping the Oregon Trail name and soliciting new names for the expansion.[237] The name of the expansion is now "Pioneer Trail". In August 2012, Electronic Arts (EA) sued Zynga for copyright infringement, alleging that Zynga's The Ville copied expressive elements of EA's The Sims Social.[238] Zynga's counsel responded by alleging that EA's SimCity Social "bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille".[238]

On October 14, 2012, Zynga filed a lawsuit against a former general manager Alan Patmore, for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets. The suit claimed Patmore misappropriated trade secrets and was in breach of contract.[239] The suit was settled in September 2013.[240]

Insider TradingEdit

In July 2012, a class action lawsuit was filed against Zynga, alleging that Mark Pincus and some other insiders were allowed to sell shares before disappointing Q2 results are revealed.[241][242]

In March 2015, a district judge ruled that plaintiffs can pursue a lawsuit against Zynga on claims executives inflated the company’s value prior to its 2011 initial public offering by concealing weaknesses in its R&D pipeline of new games, numbers of users and their purchasing patterns, and other key metrics.[243]

Other legal controversiesEdit

In late May 2010, the Norwegian Consumer Council filed a complaint to the Data Inspectorate regarding breaches of the Data Protection Act.[244]

In August 2010, the San Francisco city attorney's office complained about the firm's guerrilla marketing campaign for its Mafia Wars game that pasted fake money on city sidewalks, calling it "vandalism".[245]


In its first round of funding in January 2008 Zynga received US$10 million.[246] In July of the same year, Zynga received US$29 million in venture finance from several firms.[247] During its first four years of operation Zynga raised a total of $854 million in three rounds of fund raising.  The last round, in February 2011, raised $490 million.[248]

Public offeringEdit

On July 1, 2011, the company filed its Form S-1 registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).[249] Zynga priced at $10 per share and began trading on NASDAQ under ZNGA on December 16, 2011. The stock closed down 5% on its first day,[13] then climbed 26% to $13.39 per share after Facebook's IPO filing on February 1, 2012 (Facebook had reported that 12% of its revenue comes from Zynga).[250] In March 2012 ZNGA was trading at $14.50.[251] For several years the stock performed poorly, but in 2017 the price hit a three-year high. By the end of 2017 Zynga's shares were trading at $4.00, a 56% gain for the year.[252]

Mobile gamesEdit

Game quality

Critics like Nick Saint of Business Insider said that Zynga's games have essentially the same mechanics even though they have different premises and settings.[208] Andrea Phillips criticized the lack of community or competition, narrative and exploration with the games solely consisting of compulsion loops to create addictive patterns for repeating gameplay.[253] Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost introduced the name "cow clickers" for such challenge-free games that demand little more than clicking on things,[254] and eventually created the satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, an "attempt to distill the social game genre down to its essence." [255]

Games Facebook Mobile Platform
Boggle With Friends X
Chess With Friends X
Clumsy Ninja X
CSR Racing X
CSR Racing 2 X
CSR Racing Classics X
Crazy Cake Swap X
Crazy Kitchen X
Crosswords With Firends X
Dawn of Titans X
Draw Something X
Drop 7 X
Empires & Allies X
Farmville X
Farmville 2 X
Farmville 2: Country Escape X
Farmville Harvest Swap X X
Farmville Tropic Escape X
Gems With Friends X
Hanging With Friends X
Hit It Rich! Casino Slots X X
Matching With Friends X
Princess Bride Slots X X
Speed Guess Something X
Spin It Rich X X
What's the Phrase X
Willy Wonka Slots X X
Wizard of Oz Magic Match X X
Wizard of Oz Slots X X
Word Streak With Friends
(Formerly Scramble With Friends)
Words With Friends X X
Words With Friends 2 X
Words On Tour X
Yummy Gummy X
Zynga Poker X
Zynga Poker Classic X

Board gamesEdit

In 2012, Zynga, in conjunction with Hasbro released several physical board games based on the various properties in the Zynga game library. These games were released under an imprint of Hasbro called "Hasbro Gaming."

As of 2012, the list of available games includes board game versions of Draw Something and Words with Friends, a CityVille edition of Monopoly and several kids' "Animal Games" based on FarmVille.[256][257]


In 2009, Zynga started a nonprofit organization,, in charge of incorporating charitable contributions into its games such as FarmVille. As of 2015 efforts have raised $20 million for international humanitarian relief efforts and philanthropic initiatives. [258]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Zynga was originally incorporated as Presidio Media in April 2007. The company's name was changed to Zynga in July 2007.[1]


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