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Zynga acquires yet another gaming company, bringing total to 12 in 12 months

by Phil Hornshaw

Are you playing Zynga games? Chances are, you will be if current trends keep up.

The free gaming powerhouse behind titles such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars has snapped up 12 smaller gaming companies in the last year, according to a story from Venture Beat. The latest is Wonderland Software, a UK mobile gaming company that’s part of Zynga’s push to become more of a player in the smartphone and tablet markets.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Wonderland is the force behind the popular title GodFinger, which was published by ngmoco. Zynga gets the rights to Wonderlands other intellectual property, but the rights to GodFinger weren’t part of the deal. According to Venture Beat, Matthew Wiggins, Wonderland Software’s chief executive, will take on the role of general manager for Zynga Mobile UK. Wiggins founded Wonderland with Mark Rose and Al Harding back in 1999.

Zynga has a serious eye on the mobile gaming market and has been expanding in that direction for the last year, although not all the acquisitions it has made have been about mobile gaming. The company has been hugely successful on Facebook, with 259 million active users playing its many free-to-play games, but its influence in mobile gaming is a lot smaller, despite having iOS and Android versions of its most popular games, including FarmVille.

In an effort to gain more ground on the iOS front, Zynga has bought smaller but successful mobile companies like Newtoy, the developer behind Words With Friends. The hugely popular Scrabble-esque multiplayer game allows players to engage each other in turn-based play regardless of whether using an Android device or an iOS device. Zynga changed the name of the company to Zynga With Friends, and from comments made at Game Developers Conference 2011 by Zynga With Friends Technical Director Vijay Thakkar, the smaller developer is allowed a fair amount of autonomy to make its games, with Zynga providing extra resources.

That seems like it’s a pretty successful strategy for Zynga, which says it has around 1,500 employees (it considers the exact number and the sizes of its teams to be a secret). But the company still wants to be the kind of force in mobile that it is on Facebook, and judging from the number of acquisitions it’s making, Zynga is still making up ground. Its freemium concept, in which players can get into its games for free but the company offers several forms of in-game content for sale for real money, is a big hit in the mobile sphere, and so there’s a lot more competition. Diversity seems to be Zynga’s gameplan and it keeps choosing popular developers, so it seems like a strategy that will pan out for the company.