The History of Zynga: Their Enormous Growth

Zynga logo

Learn about the history of Zynga and how they become a gaming behemoth in a matter of years. Learn about their expansion, games, and forays into gambling.



They are likely responsible for the majority of Facebook alerts you receive. Whether from a friend, coworker, or family member, Zynga has created games that have grabbed the imagination of millions of people across the globe.


Zynga is unquestionably one of the largest social gaming companies (rival King tops the list), and it has recently expanded into real-money gambling.


The gaming firm has expanded its reach to all mobile devices since its inception under Facebook’s protection. Its early games eventually led to its stratospheric climb to notoriety, the success of products like as FarmVille and CityVille, and finally Zynga Poker, which was the company’s entry point into real-money gambling.

Setting up Presidio Media


2007, APR.

Mark Pincus

Mark Pincus establishes Presidio Media to capitalize on the possibility Facebook afforded developers to create applications for its social network via its API.


Rebranding inside Zynga

2007, JUL. Pinkus rebrands Zynga

Pinkus renames his new firm Zynga, in honor of his deceased American bulldog.


On Facebook, Texas Hold’em is played.

2007, JUL. Zynga Poker

Texas Hold’em, which would eventually be renamed Zynga Poker, becomes Zynga’s first mobile game on Facebook.


Zynga’s first $10 million in revenue

2008, JAN.

Zynga’s first $10 Million in revenue

Zynga gets $10 million in its initial venture fundraising round.


Mafia Wars and YoVille social network games were released in 2008.

Zynga releases Mafia Wars and acquires YoVille, a social network game that would serve as the foundation for its most popular game, FarmVille.


40 million monthly players

April 2009, 40 Million Players

With 40 million monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook, Zynga becomes the app developer with the highest monthly active users (MAU).


FarmVille 2009, AUG.

FarmVille Zynga introduces FarmVille, which becomes the most popular game on Facebook, attracting over 10 million people each day and spawning a sequel, FarmVille 2, and a spin-off, CityVille.


CityVille Is the most popular Facebook game

2010 December. City Vila

With 61 MAU, CityVille surpasses Farmville to become the most popular game on Facebook.


Zynga on NASDAQ

2011, DEC.

Zynga on NASDAQ

Zynga becomes a public company and begins trading on the NASDAQ.


Zynga with Friends, JUNE 2012

The Zynga Friends “Zynga with Friends” network was introduced with the intention of linking individuals playing Zynga mobile games on various platforms.


Problems at Zynga

2013, JUN.

Problems at Zynga

Zynga eliminates some of its games and declares that it will reduce its staff by around 18%.


Zynga acquires NaturalMotion

2014, JAN.

Zynga acquires NaturalMotion

For $527 million, Zynga acquires the British software business NaturalMotion.


Zynga Hires 2014, JUL.

Zynga Hires

Zynga rents more office space in Orlando in addition to recruiting more software engineers and technical designers.


Zynga has 27 games on Facebook as of May 2015, according to their lineup.

The Zynga lineup included 27 Facebook games and 17 mobile apps compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.


Zynga purchases Superlabs 2015, JUN.

Zynga Superlabs

After leaving Zynga, Mark Pincus founded Superlabs, which was bought by the firm for $1, indicating that it was simply a talent acquisition.


Launch of CSR Racing 2 in June 2016.

CSR Racing 2 Zynga introduces CSR Racing 2 globally. A game designed for mobile devices by NaturalMotion.


Launch of Dawn of Titans in 2016, DEC.

Launch of Titanic Dawn

Zynga releases a new mobile action-strategy game created by the recently acquired NaturalMotion.


2017 & Beyond 2017 >> Future developments

Zynga prefers to keep its future plans a secret, thus it is impossible to predict the company’s future orientation. Regardless of the outcome, the game creator will have a few exciting years.


Humble beginnings

Zynga Beginnings

Before Zynga became the gaming behemoth it is today, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus endured a number of failed beginnings and diversions. Pincus’s résumé included three unsuccessful businesses before he chose to enter the gambling industry. Facebook began allowing developers to create applications for its social network via its API in May 2007. Clearly, this was an attempt to compete with MySpace, and it was successful, as developers began to flock to the booming startup.


Among them was Pincus, who a month earlier had founded Presidio Media in order to ride the wave of what was clearly the next big thing in social networking. This was a dangerous wager given his early gaming success on MySpace, where he generated the majority of his money. Pincus, however, saw that Facebook was onto something greater, and based his efforts on building apps for this social network on this hunch.


In July of 2007, Pincus renamed his new firm Zynga after his deceased American bulldog, whose silhouette serves as the company’s emblem. The firm was expanding rapidly, but it had not yet tested the waters on Facebook, where Zynga would ultimately find success. When Zynga debuted its first game on Facebook, a poker game formerly known as Texas Hold’em Poker and then rebranded as Zynga Poker, it was so successful that the firm became profitable instantly. The stage was laid for the subsequent fast expansion.


Seeking the top position

Top Spot

Zynga’s approach to game development was distinct from that of competitors Playfish and Playdom, with whom it vied for the top place in the early Facebook gaming charts. Pincus was committed to developing video games in the same manner as other software.


Using tactics inspired by current agile software development methodologies, he attempted to test new game concepts as rapidly and inexpensively as possible to determine what would work and what would not. Zynga relied heavily on this type of information, and Pincus’s willingness to abandon games that did not provide positive results was a significant factor in propelling the business to its present position in the social gaming sector. Pincus is a key character in the company’s history, yet he was not the only architect of Zynga’s success.


Owen Van Natta, Facebook’s COO, and experienced game designers such as Mark Skaggs and Brian Reynolds, who created unique and addicting games that were just a step above the cheaper clones that Zynga used to produce, were essential in Zynga’s early years of success. What distinguishes Zynga’s growth is its unwavering commitment to developing games that can be played and enjoyed from any location.


The team responsible for its blockbuster hits was guided by the company’s idea that games should be free, sociable, and above all, enjoyable to play. Zynga excelled at the confluence of these three characteristics, but many of its early competitors, still concentrated on producing clones, failed spectacularly.

In 2008, Zynga released their second game, Mafia Wars. Simultaneously, it acquired another game called YoVille, a social network game set in a vast virtual globe that would serve as the foundation for its most popular game, FarmVille. Before cultivating crops and caring for farm animals became popular, Zynga was already Facebook’s leading app developer, with over 40 million monthly active users playing its games.



Zynga rose to prominence in June 2009 when it debuted its most popular game. In barely six weeks, FarmVille became the most popular game on Facebook, garnering more than 10 million daily players who were actively engaged in the game. When Zynga launched the sequel FarmVille 2 and the spin-off ChefVille, these figures continued to rise.


With over 265 million active users per month and three of the top five Facebook games at present, Zynga’s hold on the social gaming market has continued to tighten as a result of these offers. Despite the fact that Pincus’s fortunes had improved, operating beneath Facebook’s shadow was becoming intolerable. The social network might impose the restrictions that API developers must follow, something Zynga would never allow.


FarmVille was the company’s first standalone game, and in March 2013, Zynga dissolved its affiliation with Facebook. Moving into real-money gaming was the company’s next step.


Even though Pincus’ gamble to put his company’s future on Facebook paid off handsomely and Zynga was experimenting with more complicated games such as Empires & Allies while its stock traded on the NASDAQ, other innovations were in the works. Zynga was in a position to know precisely what customers enjoyed about social games due to its compulsive data collecting, and it want to monetize this winning formula even more.


The majority of their money came from sponsorships and advertisements that Facebook placed within the game. Zynga had previously proven to the world that free-to-play games were a viable business model by implementing the aforementioned strategies. Now, the company aimed to convince players to swap real money for virtual products that could be utilized in a game. Initially, this was accomplished indirectly through ‘lead generation,’ which consisted of encouraging users to join up for and distribute revenue-generating offers in exchange for virtual poker chips.


A new game: cash in exchange for information

In 2007, the idea of selling virtual items was still novel, but Zynga was optimistic that it could be developed into a viable business model. Although it will continue to develop free-to-play games, customers would be allowed to make in-game purchases to improve their experience.


Zynga began requiring players to pay for virtual money, the poker chips they needed to play Zynga Poker, and privileges such as VIP status, which unlocked certain bonuses in the game, as ad income began to dwindle and subscription models fell out of favor. Even if just 2.5% of Zynga’s active users paid for virtual goods, this tiny group of hardcore games would be sufficient to turn a profit and fuel the company’s development.


The primary advantage of this system was that there was no limit on how much customers might spend, and many users took their games very seriously! Zynga could offer packets of virtual poker chips for $100 each, and there would undoubtedly be a player willing to pay that much. Although some individuals were put off by Zynga’s choice to implement in-game purchases, the cost of acquiring new users was extremely low, and losses were fully compensated by new users adopting Zynga’s mobile apps.



Networking the World

Zynga has definitely accomplished its objective of “connecting the globe via games” since its inception in 2007 and despite all its ups and downs. As of December 2013, Zynga offers 11 Facebook games and 17 mobile titles compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices.


Numerous analysts have begun to doubt the long-term viability of Zynga’s approach to social gaming, particularly its capacity to continually generate fresh and unique game concepts. Nonetheless, Zynga has irrevocably altered the face of social networking gaming. It has brought a whole new form of play to millions of casual gamers across the world and given game creators a new economic model to strive for and enhance.

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