Zynga Buys A Bit Lucky To Break Into Mid-Core Gaming

Zynga isn’t just for your stereotypical stay-at-home mom anymore. The company’s breaking away from its casual gaming past with a deal to buy midcore developer A Bit Lucky today.

What this means is that part of Zynga’s game portfolio may become more geared toward male audiences. Midcore games tend to have smaller audiences that spend more on average.

“We independently both arrived at the same conclusions that there is a place to combine hard or midcore DNA with social gaming,” said Frederic Descamps, A Bit Lucky’s CEO. In a sign that a deal may have been in the works, A Bit Lucky’s games — Lucky Train and Lucky Space — disappeared from Facebook over the last few weeks. Neither game was very large with 20,000 and 1,000 daily actives respectively. Zynga did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Even with the acquisition, A Bit Lucky will continue working on another upcoming title, “Solstice Arena.” The company was backed by Nexon, SV Angel, Felicis Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Google’s David Lawee, XG Ventures and Founder Collective. Bloomberg reported the deal ahead of Zynga’s announcement today.

Zynga may be feeling pressure to move into new market segments as investors have driven the market cap of the company down to $2.3 billion amid concerns about future growth. Zynga’s shares have lost more than three-quarters of their value in the last six months as investors have raised concerns that the company’s player base is no longer growing quickly on Facebook and that mobile revenues are not ramping up fast enough.

Midcore gaming is definitely not new to the Facebook platform, though. There are competitors like Kixeye, which has openly mocked Zynga in its recruiting videos. Kixeye says its games earn about 20 times the amount that typical casual social games earn every day on a per-user basis. EA also bought a midcore developer, KlickNation, last year to build social games for its BioWare unit.

Here’s Zynga’s statement:

At Zynga, we want to deliver the best social games to as many audiences as possible, and we’ve been hard at work to expand into new categories of play. I’m excited to share some news about a new category that you may have heard us hint at before: mid-core, multi-platform games.

Today we’re proud to announce the small acquisition of mid-core, multiplatform games developer A Bit Lucky, an incredibly talented studio based out of San Mateo, Calif. The team is made up of game veterans from companies like Trion Worlds and Xfire and brings with it two extremely talented founders –Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard. All 20+ of A Bit Lucky’s employees will become part of Zynga San Francisco.

The team is working on Solstice Arena, an awesome multi-player (and multi-platform) game, and they’ll continue development of Solstice Arena as part of Zynga.

A Bit Lucky joins many of the talented teams and individuals working on new categories of play for Zynga.

Most recently, we hired John Tobias, co-creator of the Mortal Kombat series, who joins Mark Turmell in our Zynga San Diego studio as Creative Director and is already working on a cool new mid-core game. Soren Johnson, another respected industry leader, recently joined Zynga East in Baltimore and is working on a stealth project as well.

On behalf of everyone at Zynga, we’re proud to welcome A Bit Lucky to the family. I’d like to end this post with an email from Frederic Descamps, CEO of A Bit Lucky to his close friends in the industry.