Google Invests in FarmVille Maker, Plans to Launch Google Games
Google's efforts to enter the social networking market are becoming clearer with a report that the search giant has quietly invested in Zynga, the developer behind ultra-popular Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars.
According to multiple anonymous sources for TechCrunch, Google secretly invested between $100 million and $200 million in Zynga. Furthermore, the sources were quite clear that it was done through Google itself, not the Google Ventures investment arm of the company, and a larger strategic partnership is still in the works.
Zynga will play a major role in the launch of Google Games, a long-rumored gaming portal expected to come later this year. Google has been discreetly hiring gaming experts, but very few details have been available about what Google Games will entail.
The investment in Zynga, however, points to a direct competition with Facebook in the social networking market . As TechCrunch points out, part of Facebook's success has been due to the rabid fans of Zynga games. These players will stay on Facebook for hours at a time to monitor and play Zynga games. Google may be hoping to steal some of those fans away to Google Games with some of Zynga's social gaming expertise.
The collaboration with Zynga could also be a boon for another upcoming site: Google Me. Rumors have been swirling that Google is working on the Google Me social network, possibly in conjunction with Google Games, to take on Facebook directly. Having Zynga games tie directly into the Google Me social network would also make sense.