Mobile app developer Rovio has famously turned its Angry Birds game into a popular toy franchise, but most other new-fangled gaming companies haven’t spent much energy going this route. But now social gaming leader Zynga is, per a big licensing deal with Hasbro.
The long-time toy and board game maker is paying Zynga to turn games like FarmVille, CityVille, and its other hit titles into real world products. Details on what this will look like are scant in the press release, so I’m left guessing what this is going to mean. Fluffy pink FarmVille tractors? Lego-style CityVille buildings? Although actually, Zynga has already been selling plush toys for FarmVille characters at Best Buy and other locations, although it’s unclear who the manufacturer is. Apparently that effort has been going well.
Here’s something else for the new partners to figure out: many of Zynga’s games are based off of existing physical games like poker (Zynga Poker) and scrabble (Words With Friends). What’s the point of playing the Zynga-branded version of poker in real life?
A bit more, from the content-light press release:
“It’s exciting to partner with Hasbro as we share a common vision for play and a mission to connect the world through games,” said Mark Pincus, founder, CEO and chief product officer of Zynga. “This partnership is so special because it represents an exciting leap forward in enabling people to connect their virtual and real worlds. Hasbro has inspired play through their famous toys, games and action figures and we look forward to working with a company that continually creates meaningful and fun brands.”
Of course, this move will create a new revenue stream, which will make Zynga’s currently bullish investors happy. For reference, merchandising can be a huge part of entertainment businesses. Disney, for example, made an estimated $28.6 billion from toys, t-shirts and other products in 2010. So look for other developers to go in the real-world direction, too. Casual game developer Big Fish, for one, recently hired the guy who had led Rovio’s push into merchandise.
[Headline courtesy of TechCrunch reader Martin Maslo.]