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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zynga: Creator of Mafia Wars, Farmville lands in India

Bangalore: 20 billion burgers cooked so far, 150 million jobs completed every day, 235 million monthly users. Wondering what I am talking about? A social networking buff may have already understood what I'm referring to - it's Zynga, the developer of the popular social networking games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. The startup which started two years back has managed to make networking games more social and now has decided to open its first office outside U.S. in Bangalore.

Zynga currently has 700 employees in the U.S. and has planned to hire 100 more in India. Zynga India is looking to hire computer scientists and engineers who are experienced in building scalable infrastructure to handle more than 70 million daily active users. "We are excited to be launching the first international facility for Zynga and will be focused on hiring about 100 of the best and brightest over the next year," said Shan Kadavil, Country Manager, Zynga India. "Our focus will be on building the next generation infrastructure that can handle the tremendous growth of Zynga games."

Zynga games are available worldwide on ten social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and are rapidly expanding. So what exactly motivated the company to open its office in India? Some might say the current internet population of India will hardly be an attractive prospect for the company. But this is not entirely true. What internet based companies are looking at is where India will be two-three years down the line. According to the data by Internet and Mobile Association of India, India is projected to become the third largest online market behind China and U.S. with 81 million internet users by 2013. Out of the total users that used internet in India, 41 percent used internet for gaming.

The monetization model for social networking games is quite tricky. Think Equity has done a research on social gaming and its growth in today's market. The report says that out of the whole bunch of people playing these free games, only 3-4 percent decide to pay for virtual goods. These 3-4 percent users manage to bring profits for companies like Zynga. The report also says that the current market size for social gaming is $60 million per month and is expected to grow at approximately 45 percent CAGR over the next three years to reach $2 billion by 2012, driven by a combination of strong growth in usage and improving monetization.

Now that Zynga has setup a center in India, we might have India based games. Cadir Lee, the Chief Technology Officer of Zynga says that he is not ruling out anything and they might try to 'Indianize' the games. Speaking on social networking games, Lee says that in earlier times before consoles and video games arrived games were more about friends coming and playing something together. But with the invention of video games and computer, people started playing more with the machines than other individuals. "Social gaming is the return of people playing with each other rather than computers," he said.

By setting up a center in India, Zynga has opened new opportunities for developers and engineers in the country to be part of the rapidly expanding social network games platform. "Social gaming combines the best of web technical talent with game storytelling talent," said Zynga CEO Mark Pincus. "India offers some of the world's most sophisticated and rich technical talent bases and we are thrilled to have a local presence."

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