Zynga Plans First NFT Games, Web 3 Acquisitions in 2022

The mobile gaming giant expects to announce partnerships with, and possible purchases of, blockchain firms by the end of the second quarter.

Feb 9, 2022 at 9:59 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 9, 2022 at 10:16 p.m. UTC

Brandy covers crypto-related venture capital deals for CoinDesk.

After announcing its blockchain gaming push late last year by partnering with blockchain infrastructure company Forte, mobile gaming giant Zynga is building out its team and readying the launch of its first non-fungible token (NFT) games.

The growth will also include more alliances, partnerships and potential acquisitions that will be announced before the end of this year’s second quarter, Matt Wolf, Zynga vice president of blockchain gaming, told CoinDesk in an interview.

“We’re fully tuned up to do acquisitions on the [Web 3] game publisher side,” said Wolf, who took over the blockchain gaming reins at Zynga in November, without specifying potential acquisition targets. “We’ve got a long history of growth through acquisition.”

Zynga initially gained name recognition through popular Facebook-based social games like Farmville. The move into blockchain gaming offers “future proofing” for the company, said Wolf. However, Zynga wants to make sure it’s fully prepared while making the leap.

“We know that in order for us to go fast, and be responsible to our company and our consumers and employees, we need to surround ourselves with capability, which we can get very quickly through alliances and partnerships,” said Wolf.

“We have to be really careful and actively listen and deeply understand who the cohort is that are consuming these blockchain games right now, who are collecting these NFTs,” Wolf continued.

Using Zynga’s IP

Wolf said it “makes sense” for Zynga to build original blockchain games from the ground up rather than update an existing title like Farmville. But some gameplay in the NFT titles will be inspired by Zynga intellectual property. “Probably not Farmville right away, more along the lines of Mafia Wars,” said Wolf, referring to Zynga’s once-popular social network game where players assume the roles of gangsters and build a crime organization.

“But to be inspired by that title, then build something that’s bespoke and purpose-built to this particular cohort that’s used to playing in a certain way, that’s our short-term strategy,” said Wolf.

'We're humble about this'

Zynga plans to expand the blockchain gaming team from the current 15 people to as many as 100, including filling out senior roles such as creative director and lead producer.

“We are taking our community building seriously. We are ramping up that team deeply. When we ignite the community, we will be actively engaged with that community, myself included,” said Wolf.

“We’re humble about this,” added Wolf. “Yes, we’re a very successful mobile games publisher. But we don’t have any experience building Web 3 games. We’re getting it. We’re not learning until we’re publishing in that market.”

The blockchain push isn’t the only big potential transition for Zynga. Last month, video game giant Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) announced plans to acquire Zynga for $12.7 billion, but the deal has yet to close.

Game publishers entering the crypto space have met with mixed reactions from gamers so far. Late last year, Ubisoft drew some backlash after announcing plans to roll out in-game NFTs.


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