Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zynga's Live Poker Bridges the Gap Between Mobile and Social

I'm excited. It doesn't happen much any more, perhaps I've been in the social gaming space for too long to be impressed by the new entrants rehashing the same game mechanics over and over again. And for business models, we've settled into virtual currency sales via CPA offers from companies like Offerpal and Superrewards for monetization.

Since I got into social games about two years ago, my vision has always been this:

Play. Anywhere.

It's what I was trying to do with my failed company, and to me, it's still the greatest opportunity for social gaming.

Imagine being able to play a game with a friend while you're waiting in line at McDonalds and they're halfway across the country sitting on their parent's couch with their laptop.

Think about this: tens of millions of people play social games every day. They all have mobile phones. It's going to be huge market.

And Zynga is going to be the first company to really capitalize on it.

Today, Zynga released Live Poker, which is the first iPhone game to use Facebook Connect, giving it access to Facebook user info, so they can display user photos and such. It's a real-time game fully integrated with their Facebook version of Texas Holdem Poker.

It's a significant move and part of a larger trend of social gaming companies moving onto a mobile platform.

Social games company, SGN has already had some successful iPhone games and are working on integrating them with Facebook but has yet to do so. New market entrant, Socialdeck managed to have a iPhone connected to friends, but did not use Facebook Connect.

I actually expected social games company, Mytopia, to be the first company to launch a mobile social version of Poker for iPhone. They currently have a Poker app that runs on Windows Mobile that lets people play in real-time with their friends playing on Facebook. However, they've opted to be a platform company rather than a games company.

I've decided to coin a new term to describe games like Zynga's Live Poker: mobile social.

Sample usage:
BIZ DEV GUY: Hey, looks like Zynga really ripping it up in mobile social.
BLOGGER: Yeah, the mobile-social industry is at the nexus of three major trends...blah...blah...blah. (we bloggers tend to pontificate.)

Anyway, here's the press release (so you can see who the lazy bloggers are who just regurgitate it - I'm so mean.):

Zynga Launches "Live Poker" for the iPhone; First Live Game Turns iPhone into a Social Gaming Platform

San Francisco – Nov. 13, 2008 – Zynga, the largest social gaming network, announced today the launch of "Live Poker," the first truly live game on the iPhone. The game, a mobile version of Zynga's popular Texas Hold'Em game, turns the iPhone into an always-on social gaming device.

"Live Poker" allows iPhone users to compete with 1.4 million daily players in the web's largest free poker game. The game makes it easy for users to play with their real friends from Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Hi5 as well as make new poker buddies. Players can easily see which of their friends are online, and join them with just one click. Since the casino is always open, users have people to play with at all levels.

Zynga's new application turns the iPhone into a social gaming platform. "Live Poker" is the first application to leverage Facebook Connect, delivering the first social game to the platform. Using Facebook Connect, "Live Poker" allows social information such as real photos to be displayed.

"We have just seen the creation of the next important social gaming platform, thanks to 'Live Poker,'" said Mark Pincus, CEO, Zynga. "Delivering the first social game on the iPhone is a logical extension for us. Social gaming continues to grow, and this is another giant step towards taking it to the mass market."

"Live Poker" is available on any iPhone with 3G or Wi-Fi access, and will also work on the iPod Touch. "Live Poker" is free, and an upgraded version giving players a larger chip package and access to tournaments is also available for $9.99. The application is offered in the iTunes store at:

About Zynga

Zynga is the largest social gaming network with more than 5.4 million daily users. Zynga's games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 and Friendster and include Texas Hold'em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist. The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group and Avalon Ventures. Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco . For more information, please visit .

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