Yesterday, we reported that Zynga was possibly setting up shop in Beijing and making a few notable hires in China. It looks like we were on to something because today, the social gaming giant is announcing the acquisition of Beijing-based social gaming company XPD Media. Along with the acquisition, Zynga is also announcing the opening of the Zynga Beijing studio, the second international office for the gaming company (Zynga set up shop in Bangalore, India in March). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
This is Zynga’s fourth acquisition over the past two year (that’s been made public, that is); the company previously bought YoVille, Serious Business, and My Mini Life. For Zynga, the acquisition represents the company’s initial foray into the Asian gaming market, which is rapidly growing. One of Zynga’s biggest competitors, Playfish, already has an office in China. The deal is more of a talent acquisition and less of a userbase acquisition—XPD Media has a number of talented developers and and engineers, and Zynga is planning in hiring on hiring a CTO, HR manager and software engineers in the new office.
Backed by True Ventures and Pilot Group, XPD Media is one of the largest social game developers in China and has developed games for international markets that are available on Facebook and other social networks worldwide. XPD Media’s CEO, Robin Chan (who was an angel investor in Twitter and in Square), will become Zynga’s GM of Asia Business Operations. Co-Founder Andy Tian (who was one of the first employees at Google China) will lead the Zynga Beijing studio. The XPD team of 40 employees will be immediately integrated into Zynga’s global workforce and focus on engineering and product development.
Currently, Zynga does not have any games on any Asian social networks. Zynga would not elaborate on its future international or game localization plans involving XPD Media.
As Sarah Lacy wrote in her report yesterday, the entry of Zynga and other Silicon Valley gaming companies into China differs from Yahoo, eBay, and Google round expanding into China, because there are a host of Chinese publicly-traded gaming competitors that already have a strong place in the arena like Tencent and Shanda.
And this also means that there will be more competition from gaming talent in China and Chinese startups may not be so happy about that. But we’ve heard from more than a few sources that there’s trouble in paradise with Google’s Beijing staff after the search giant threatened its pull-out of the market earlier this year, so perhaps Zynga will be able to poach talent from this office.
This has been a big week for Zynga. The social gaming giant just entered a five-year partnership with Facebook, amidst rumors that Zynga was leaving the social network partially due to Facebook’s policies over its virtual currency, Credits. But all is well–for now, at least. Zynga says that this will be a big summer for the company, and will continue to focus on building our its own independent business. Clearly that business will have an international angle.