Update: Google invests $100M in Zynga, Preparing for new game platform?

Remember last week when I talked about how Zynga’s social games were spreading into the real world.  Well, they’re getting ready to spread a lot farther, at least digitally.  A report from Tech Cruch indicates that the social gaming company’s products, which include FarmVille and MafiaWars, may be the cornerstone of Googles new gaming venture.  The report isn’t super clear what this will mean for the games, aside from a likely switch from PayPal to Google Checkout.  I doubt either side will want to change the formula much.  It’s all a big mystery for now, except for Zynga’s projected operating profit for 2011, which is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  That is serious money no matter how you slice it.  Questions about whether they can sustain this level of interest and profitability, even if they aren’t explicit are essentially answered, are implied by Google’s vote of confidence–along with the other investors–who continue to pump cash into Zynga.

Somehow it’s still amazing to me that a company can make that much money selling farm products that don’t even exist, and yet our government has to subsidize real farmers with billions of dollars every year.  Although, if I were a farmer, I would probably want to live in a world where crops never die from insects or early frosts and your friends and neighbors fertilize your crops for you.  Clearly social gaming and virtual goods are going to continue to redefine virtual worlds.  What will other games do in response?  Will we some day see a World of Warcraft that actively allows some sort of real money trading?  If there’s money in it, it’s only a matter of time.

About Justin Kwong

An attorney in the Twin Cities and adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law where I teach a seminar on the law of virtual worlds.
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