If there’s one group of people who are happy to see this day come to light, besides Zynga employees, it’s the shareholders who have been waiting patiently. Zynga, the popular social gaming giant has finally taken the first step into its new world of real-money gambling and it couldn’t come a day to soon. They made it official in Barcelona, Spain on July 10th at a gaming event there and they are ready to go. They will always stay true to their heart and soul, which is social games, but the days of offering just play for fun only games on Facebook have come to a close.
There are even lots of their fans that have been waiting for this day to arrive as well, and now they can finally get what they want and maybe even win something along the way. Playing games for fun may be for some, but its those who want the real thrill of playing for money that got what they’ve been waiting for all these years. Even though the play for real-money games will only be allowed in the UK where online gaming is legal, there are many European countries that it’s legal as well as the industry starts to emerge all over the world. Keeping to the industry standards as well, Zynga is launching the ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino brands that are just the same versions of their social games but players can make deposits, gamble and have chances to win.
Zynga isn’t going it alone either, they have successfully teamed up with industry giant Bwin.party to combine and create an online gaming force to be reckon with. It was just last year that Bwin.party was looking for a social games provider that was ready to go in with solid games, brands and the all important critical mass that they could team up with. Now this will be the first wave of real-money games that Zynga will have on Facebook and offer them on mobile devices as well. They also acknowledge that they are just in the first phase of getting into this market and are even downplaying the financial gains since it’s still early in the game.
There’s an interesting mix going on here too, as Zynga is using the Bwin.party poker software platform and network and that lets players access the Partypoker tables and this even applies to the Facebook games. People who don’t want to gamble with real-money will still have access to the same games but they will have a different color scheme and a different overall look. If a player does decide its time to play with real-money they can do that, but they will have to provide all their details such as age and location.
The preparations for this day started a while back, in October of 2012 when Zynga hired real-money gambling executive Maytal Olsha away from 888.com. That was probably the first indication that this is what the company needed to do and that was hire the best from the industry they want to play in. This doesn’t mean that Zynga will walk away with the market leader status in the social games real-money category by any means. It wasn’t Zynga’s casino or even their poker products that made to Facebook’s real money games after all. Bingo was the first app to make that jump.
It was last August when London-based Gamesys launched Bingo Friendzy, the first real money gambling app for Facebook. Now it will be interesting to see who will be next and who will claim the leading spot. It goes to show you that just because you were on Facebook first with social games doesn’t mean you will be the one who dominates in all categories. Zynga has had some real hits over the last few years in social gaming with games like Words with Friends, FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and CityVille.
But this is going to be new territory for them and they know it. One of the problems is that many of Zyngas games can’t be played on mobile devices and that is definitely where the online gambling market is going. Now more and more of the industry standard online gaming companies like Microgaming, Real Time Gaming( Bovada Mobile ) and Betsoft Slots( Drake Mobile ) are well under way with mobile friendly games that people know and love. Some of their favorite games they’ve been playing for years and are familiar with are on mobile.
Another sign that Zynga needs to prepare for this new industry is the resignation of CEO Mark Pincus who recognizes the fact that there needs to be someone running the ship who can get them into these new markets fast. Don Mattrick the new CEO is a veteran in the gaming industry and was hired away from Microsoft where he was instrumental in introducing the next-generation Xbox One home-entertainment and gaming console. So lets see if Zynga and Bwin.party take the industry by storm and come out with all the chips on the table.