Rumors are circulating this weekend that Google has buddied up with social gaming titan Zynga, the company behind FarmVille, in a deal that sees not only the games coming to the search site, but also a rather healthy amount of investment.
The name “Zynga” doesn’t always ring a bell with people, but if you say “they make FarmVille”, people will understand who they are instantly. Now, tell them that the company behind virtual farming is projected to gross $1 billion in sales next year, and you may see their jaws drop.
With that sort of money on the table, and the craze for the games this company makes having some life left in it, is it any surprise Google wants a piece of the action? According to a rumor report from TechCrunch, Google has invested between 100 and 200 million dollars in Zynga, and will use the company’s games as the cornerstone of a new Google Games section of its site to launch by the end of this year.
The initial reaction is, “too little, too late” as Zynga is already on Facebook, MySpace and Yahoo, but our thinking is this has something more to do with the rumors of the new social networking project Google is rumored to be working on. Google desperately wants to be relevant in the social networking field, but has failed time and time again to crack that nut. With Facebook continuing to grow, Google can’t just sit back and do nothing, and no matter how little faith people may have in the company in this particular field, it has to at least try.
Our thinking is that Google feels the quickest way to get people to pay attention to any new social service it launches is to hitch its wagon to the insanely popular games this company controls. Currently when you go into 7-Eleven stores in the United States you are hit up with images from FramVille, Mafia Wars and other Zynga properties, so you know these games have gone mainstream. Now Google goes to launch a social network, tells you all of the things you can do on it and then adds in you can continue to play FarmVille? People just might check it out.
The other advantage in this agreement for Google is the potential to educate more people about its Google Checkout online payment system. This is pure speculation at this point that purchases made on the Zynga portal at Google would switch over from Pay Pal to Google Checkout, but it makes sense. Why should Google let a competitor collect the processing fees for sales made on its own site?
You add in the fact that Google is currently looking for a Product Management Leader for a games product, and it’s obvious that something is going on over at Google. Possibly Zynga is going to be just one component of the games area, but this does seem to confirm that something is definitely afoot over at the Google campus, and only time will tell what exactly it is.
What say you? Are you ready to move your farm to Google?