Google's looking to expand its presence in the online gaming sector, if reports are to be believed that the company's invested $100M (or more) in online gaming giant Zynga. The latter's the creator of the popular Facebook games Mafia Wars and FarmVille but, more importantly, it's also been hit with a potential market valuation of $5 billion by researchers over at Second Shares.
It's no secret that Zynga and its 237 million active monthly players form a fairly compelling chunk of the social gaming market. And according to TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, Google wants in. The search giant is allegedly looking to launch its own Google Games platform that might, itself, be a part of the company's rumored Google Me social networking presence.
Neither company is talking about the proposed investment which, according to Arrington, came straight from Google itself—not Google Ventures, the company's venture capital arm. Zynga will allegedly serve as the foundation for the entire platform, which gives Google quick access to instant popularity in regards to the games it'll be able to deliver to its users.
Its users, by the way, allegedly helped serve up more than $350 million in revenue for Zynga for just the first half of 2010. And according to Arrington's unnamed sources, the company is expected to push into the $1B mark by 2011.
GamesBeat's Dean Takahashi has allegedly confirmed the Google-Zynga deal through his own independent sources familiar with the situation.
As well, Matthew Ingram over at GigaOM cites an fairly compelling Twitter post made by chief Zynga engineer Allan Leinwand. In it, Leinwand notes all the different deals the company has made within his two months at the company: 7-Eleven, Facebook, Yahoo, and… Google.
According to Takahashi, Zynga's integration with the proposed Google Games service give users to chance to game throughout Google's various Web properties—he cites Gmail as a prime example of such a pairing.
As well, the integration will allow Google to begin to map our relationships amongst its user base, creating a kind of social graph—or a mapping of individuals' friendships and interactions—akin to Facebook's, currently the world's largest.
"If the reports are true, however, it's interesting that Google would choose to pursue Zynga rather than trying to develop a relationship with a game developer that isn't so closely tied to Facebook, one of the company's biggest competitors in the social-networking space," writes Ingram.