The creator of FarmVille and Zynga Poker has decided to add another aspect to their extremely popular social gaming catalog, real-money gambling. Zynga creates social games and allows users to play them online for free. In the past, Zynga made money through the sale of virtual currency and ads. The announcement sent stocks higher but don't expect it to save the embattled company.
ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino will allow users in the United Kingdom to buy credits which they can then use for betting. Individuals must first deposit a minimum amount of £10 GBP in their accounts before gaining access to slots of gambling tables. Games like Blackjack or roulette requires the player to purchase more credits. So if you want more than just slots, you'll have to pay more too. What seems to be missing from the gaming experience, according to TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden, is the social element that Zynga is known for.
Real-money online gaming is still illegal in many states but in the U.K. gambling revenues are expected to reach $183bn by 2015. The makers of Zynga hope to expand the online gambling service to other European countries this year. The U.K. market will enable the company access to savvy and demanding gamblers which will allow them to make any changes to the game before broader release.
Zynga was publicly offered at $10 a share in 2011, since then shares dropped to about $2.50. News of the real-money gaming sites sent shares up 5.5 percent but this will be short-lived. The increase in stock price says more about the hunger for online gaming than it does for the longevity Zynga. The company—once hailed as the fastest growing Silicon Valley tech company—gained popularity at a time when users accessed the internet via desktop computers. The majority of users now use their mobile devices to access the Internet and Facebook.
The company has suffered under the short-sighted and poor leadership of Mark Pincus who started it back in 2007. Employees label Pincus as a money hungry mercenary whose only concern is with how the company looks on paper. Pincus isn't interested in the longevity of the company or his 3,000 employees, he's interested in how much money he can make before it goes belly-up.