Zynga Purchases OMGPOP

OMGPOP, creators of Draw Something and thirty-five other titles, has been acquired by Zynga, the creators of FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Draw Something is priced at 99¢ with optional purchasable content and is currently the top title on Apple’s App Store, having been downloaded more then 35 million times. It has also usurped Zynga’s Words with Friends‘s top spot on Facebook games in terms of daily active users. Comments on OMGPOP’s web site have been mostly ambivalent, with many supporting OMGPOP getting attention but worrying about what Zynga may do to change the company’s direction.

Dan Porter, CEO of OMGPOP, had this to say about the acquisition:

Making Draw Something has been a dream come true for me and for all the people at OMGPOP. To make a game that is so popular and has made so many people happy is totally overwhelming. Frankly the only word we could use around here is humbled. To make a game that is owned, created and shared by players themselves is amazing. And to be in an incredibly fun dialogue with players around words like RZA, Katniss and pop culture as a whole has been very fun.

One of our inspirations for the game, from the interface to the asynchronous play, has always been Words with Friends. Words with Friends really blazed the trail for what we have tried to do at OMGPOP – connect people through play. When we started talking to Zynga, our team was very excited about teaming up with the leader in the games and mobile space. After long discussions with the Zynga team, we came to understand that Zynga’s interest was in giving us an amazing platform, in terms of resources and talent, to continue to build different, out-of-the-box social games like Draw Something.

Zynga offered us a chance to focus on Draw Something. They know the power of the game and they planned with us how to let it keep rolling in the same fun, irreverent and social way that it has been. That was really important to us. And they are working with us on everything else –improving performance issues in the game, planning for new games, finding even more developers to work on the game and more. For us, as a small game studio in New York City, which is not at the epicenter of gaming, to find a partner to help us bring our special brand of fun to even more people, is an incredible opportunity.

So to players of the game, don’t worry. Nothing’s changing and now all the features you want — chat and sharing and galleries and more – will come even faster. Thank you for everything. And to all future players, you are going to love the things that OMGPOP and Zynga are cooking up together.

Just like Draw Something is a cooperative game where two players work together and have a lot of fun, we hope to replicate that same feeling with OMGPOP and Zynga, It’s [sic] going to be drawsome 😉

The price of acquisition was not released, but earlier reports had stated that both Zynga and GREE were considering purchasing the company for around $200 million, according to an L.A. Times article. A source for Reuters stated that the purchase was indeed for $200 million.

Analysis: It’s interesting that Zynga jumped into the ring on this one, considering GREE was also eyeing the company. As I reported previously, GREE has announced its first U.S.-made game and a social gaming platform they’re working on, so competition is healthy. It looks like Zynga’s starting to look outside of Facebook for sources of revenue, which is a smart move so long as the company doesn’t pull a THQ and focus on the wrong things. Considering this is OMGPOP’s first hit in the six years of its existence, perhaps this wasn’t the smartest business move, but perhaps the push from GREE was what inspired them to purchase this (so far) one-hit wonder. David Ko, Zynga’s chief mobile advisor, has said that OMGPOP has some good ideas, which of course he would say that after his company spent that much money on the purchase. As such, perhaps this is something we’re better off watching unfold instead of speculating.

I look forward to seeing OMGPOP’s future successes. They seem really pleased about the purchase—who wouldn’t be at a potential $200 million?—so I hope this doesn’t turn sour for them. I hope this is a new turning stone for Zynga as well and we can start to see some new users come to them—and maybe, just maybe, some more creative intellectual property.

Though I guess in all fairness, Draw Something is basically Pictionary.


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