Just as the Floridian government was banning Internet gambling – and accidentally banning all smartphones and laptops along with it – Zynga stepped up and gave it a ringing endorsement. The social gaming company announced the incorporation of real-money games in a land where online gambling is legal: the United Kingdom.
According to VentureBeat, ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino are two games that are being developed from their original social versions to let users win real British pounds. The company is creating both stand-alone mobile apps and Facebook apps.
After users prove that they’re at least 18 (the legal gambling age in the UK) they will be able to win actual prizes like free hotel casino stays. A successful online gambler could walk away not only with a large chunk of change, but the chance to test his or her skills (and luck) at a real life poker table.
It appears that the stock market is against Florida on this one and in favor of online gambling as well. According to USA Today, Zynga’s stocks were up by 1.52% in pre-market trading yesterday. Considering that the gaming company’s stock has been in the three dollar range for the past year, any boost is a welcome boost. Investors are thrilled because this is a chance for Zynga – along with its users – to earn cold hard cash, there’s an immediate monetary value in real-money games. With actual gambling, the app developer doesn’t need to bank on up-sells and advertising.
CNET reported that Facebook generated about $213 million in revenue from games in Q1 of 2013. If that sounds like a lot, remember that Facebook made $1,245 million in ad revenue in Q1 and plans to roll out video ads that will bring in $4 million per day. $213 million is nice pocket change, but the real value comes from time spent on the site. If people are getting sucked into games, they’re spending more time on Facebook and less time on Tumblr or Twitter. Not only do games pull users away from Facebook’s competition, they also give the site more advertising opportunities.
While Zynga has been working with Facebook on this online gambling project, King has taken over as the top app developer on the social network. The San Francisco Business Times said that King saw 149.5 million active users this month, while Zynga fell to 146.6 million. The confusingly popular game Candy Crush Saga was the number one game with 45.5. million monthly active users while Farmville 2 was fourth at 31.5. Between the rise of London-based King and Zynga’s incorporation of real-money gambling, who knew the UK was such a hotbed for app development?
While Zynga and EA have been on a roller coaster ride with Facebook and game development as a whole, there is still a strong market for social gaming. People still enjoy the quick mental break that comes with playing a mindless game on an app or website. Just because Zynga and EA aren’t at the top doesn’t mean users aren’t still interested in crushing various gems and sugary treats. It just means that there’s a new King in town that dethroned them.