Zynga’s Gaming Gamble

In late September a sizzling San Francisco Web gaming company called Zynga took the cloak off its latest creation: an online game that lets people open virtual restaurants on their Facebook pages. Competitors vie for points by tending to pseudo-stoves and cranking out orders of cheeseburgers and chunky fruit salads for animated customers.

It’s no joke. Within a week 4 million people daily were grilling and chopping in Zynga’s Café World. By late October 21 million foodies had played the game. Most critically for Zynga, a good number of them (Zynga won’t say how many) were forking over real cash to decorate their virtual restaurants and buy provisions.

This formula has worked many times over for Zynga and its founder, Mark Pincus, a floppy-haired Internet entrepreneur who named the company after his now-deceased bulldog. Zynga created the current top three most popular games on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, according to media tracker Developer Analytics. They include the wildly popular FarmVille, a venue for city slickers to nurture virtual crops and livestock, and Mafia Wars, an outlet for buying guns and ordering hits on enemies.

Read the full artickle in Forbes here

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