Zynga Moves Into Open Source with cocos2d Acquistion

The online gaming giant continues to gobble up technology, now open source

Microsoft buying Skype for a cool 8.5b is not the only M&A news today. Online gaming giant Zynga announced that they had acquired Sapus Media which is owned by the two developers of the cocos2d gaming engine for Apples iOS. Terms of the deal were not discussed. This is Zynga's 13th acquisition in the last 12 months. That is quite a number for a company which isn't even public yet.

This acquisition will give Zynga some in house expertise in developing games for the Apple mobile platform.  Zynga already uses the technology for Farmville on the iPhone. The technology is also widely used by companies like Atari and Gamevil. The two lead developers of the cocos2d project will start working at Zynga right away.  

What is interesting is that this is the first time Zynga has acquired open source technology.  While they are a big consumer themselves of open source, now they are in the developers chair. Actually they did not purchase and will not own or control the cocos2d community. That will remain independent and continue being run by one of the developers of cocos2d who will now be working for Zynga.

It may be that Zynga has the developers develop other gaming platforms that will be exclusive to Zynga. While they say they are commiteed to cocos2d and support open source, actions speak louder than words. It will be interesting to watch the next few months to see if Zynga continues to move the cocos2d project forward.

Of course gaming and mobile gaming in particular is a gold mine. Zynga has become one of the fastest growing tech companies of all time with their largely Facebook based lineup of cash cows like Farmville, Mafia Wars, Petville, etc. But they have also bought the company that makes Words for Friends and others as they seek to move to a mobile platform. 

In the mobile gaming market they face competition like Electronic Arts Inc and Rovio. It may be that Zynga doesn't like the competition that open source can foster, but that is pure speculation. In any event, Zynga keeps marching on making a mint on the games people play.

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