Fascinating games

‘Future-proof’: Why FarmVille creator Zynga is making NFT games — starting this year

In short

  • Casual game maker Zynga will launch its first blockchain-based NFT game in 2022.
  • Take-Two Interactive last month announced the acquisition of Zynga for $12.7 billion.

Zynga had huge success and notoriety with FarmVille in 2009, a Facebook game that quickly garnered 10 million daily users despite objections from hardcore gamers. Over the years, the company has continued to attract casual gamers with hits like CityVille and Words With Friends, becoming a major mobile developer.

But now, Zynga is building into a space that’s getting the same kind of powerful (and often negative) reaction from many gamers that casual and mobile titles have had in the past: NFT.

An NFT is a type of token which can be used to represent ownership of digital assets, such as images, videos, or game items. Currently, the Ethereumgame based Axie Infinity is the biggest NFT project ever with nearly $4 billion in trading volume to date, while the rise in the overall NFT market, which reached $25 billion in trading volume last year – prompted legacy game publishers like Ubisoft, Square-Enixand Konami to start exploring space.

It’s a potentially ripe opportunity for Zynga, and the casual game publisher started moving in the space last fall, hiring Matt Wolf as vice president of blockchain gaming in November.

Wolf has advised various gaming and crypto companies, ranging from Riot Games to Fan Controlled Football, and previously served as Senior Vice President of Entertainment, Strategic Partnerships and Corporate at Coca-Coke.

Asked what prompted Zynga to start exploring the NFT and crypto space, Wolf pointed to the company’s “future-proofing” business and improving its capabilities, rather than replacing its current production and switching entirely to Web3. “We have a very prolific board in the C suite, and they see crypto, blockchain, NFTs, and Web3 as potentially huge,” he said Decrypt.

Zynga’s games aren’t generally particularly robust or complex, but the most successful of them generate a compelling feedback loop that keeps gamers hooked. In Wolf’s eyes, block chain networks add the ability to own assets to this equation, giving gamers yet another reason to feel invested in a game and stay tuned.

“[Ownership] is probably one of the most important things,” Wolf explained, “and the empowerment that comes with it, and the relationship that comes with it, and the trust and love and loyalty that comes with it over time.

Wolf kept coming back to the idea of ​​gamers “trusting” Zynga when exploring this new space – an interesting premise since blockchains are designed to enable trustless interactions without a middleman. In his view, however, newcomers to the space will want guidance and assistance as they get used to the asset ownership paradigm.

“We’re really going to work to make sure that when people are in our ecosystems, they feel safe and covered,” Wolf said, “and we’re there for them to answer questions or deal with complexity that they’ we are progressing in terms of crypto or wallets.

what and when

Zynga’s stable of intellectual property includes the aforementioned games and other hits such as CSR Racing and Zynga Poker, and the company has created licensed games based on Star Wars, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

For its first blockchain-based game, which has yet to be officially revealed, Wolf said Zynga plans to take inspiration from an existing local IP address while creating a crypto-centric experience.

“We’re probably going to take inspiration from a particular game as we go to market here,” he explained. “But I mean in the same breath that we’re creating core experiences for that community. We’re not taking a bolt-on approach. Right now, we’re creating.

Zynga aims to launch its first blockchain game later this year, with the first details likely expected in the second quarter as the company begins to cultivate a community of potential gamers around the project. At this point, Zynga is still growing its blockchain team, with plans to have up to 100 people working on such games.

The publisher announced a strategic alliance with blockchain gaming infrastructure company Forte in December, shortly after Forte’s latest report. Series B fundraising of $725 million. Wolf said “several more announcements” will come regarding partnerships and plans as Zynga works with external partners and potentially acquires businesses along the way.

Embrace Web3

By the time Zynga’s first blockchain game officially launches later this year, the company could be under the umbrella of leading games publisher Take-Two Interactive, the company behind Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K, which announced this month. last his intention to buys Zynga for $12.7 billion. The deal is expected to be completed by June 30.

Wolf said he couldn’t discuss the potential impact of the planned acquisition, but pointed to previous comments from CEOs of both companies.

When the deal was announced, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zenick said there were “Web3 opportunities” that the two companies could better leverage together, while Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau added. that “the idea that gamers will play to win or play-to-own is a very compelling idea that we believe will gain traction as the industry develops.

This week, Zelnick reportedly told investors that he is “strongly convinced that there is an opportunity for NFTs to adapt to Take-Two’s offerings in the future”. However, he added, “We want to ensure that consumers always have a good experience every time they interact with our properties and losing money on speculation is not a good experience.”

Many of today’s NFT-based games look like even simpler, scaled-down versions of the types of games Zynga specializes in – and yes, there are. play-to-win farm games.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why many traditional video game players are so opposed to the idea of ​​NFT games, which offer potential benefits such as true ownership of assets, accumulation of value, token rewards through play-to-earn game models and potential interoperability for NFT assets between multiple games or metaverse worlds.

Other frequent reviews this Faced with NFT games are that these digital assets are a scam or a scam, and that NFTs kill the environment, although the environmental impact of blockchain networks can vary widely. For its part, Zynga said it would develop environmentally friendly NFT games.

To try to overcome the NFT gaming pushback, Wolf said Zynga will focus on delivering a quality experience and setting reliable expectations. From there, it will be about learning from each blockchain game launch and evolving their approach, with “more” blockchain games planned as the company explores this new market.

“If we can deliver high quality products and a track record that we continue to support,” he said, “and surprise and delight our verse of players, then I think we’ll have done a good job. “


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