Zynga and NFTs: Farmville Creator Sets Its Sights on the Blockchain
March 8, 2022
You’ve probably heard a lot about NFTs lately and you may be wondering what they’re all about.
In short, an NFT, or Non-Fungible Token, is a digital asset that can be traded over the internet. They are essentially tokens used to represent ownership of digital items such as images, videos and in-game items. An NFT can only have one owner, cannot be copy-and-pasted and is secured by cryptocurrency blockchains.
NFTs have been around since 2014 but have become increasingly popular with the launch of the Metaverse and the desire for digital ownership.
Show Me the Money
With the increasing popularity of NFTs, we’ve seen exponential growth in the play-to-earn gaming market. These games give players the opportunity to earn something in-game that not only has value in the virtual world but also has a real-world value attached to it. This has seen gamers flock to titles such as Axie Infinity in the hopes of acquiring such items.
Even with its inferior aesthetics versus similar unpaid games with the same gameplay and strategy, Axie Infinity has hit $4 billion in trading volume to date, raising the eyebrows of more than just a couple of mobile gaming heavyweights.
For a company like Zynga, whose most successful games aren’t particularly complex, this provides a golden opportunity to cash in on a potentially lucrative market. In 2022, they appointed Matt Wolf as their vice president of blockchain gaming. A 30-year veteran in the gaming industry, Wolf was previously involved in various gaming and crypto firms and served as VP of entertainment, strategic partnerships and ventures at Coca-Cola.
This was their first big step in a seemingly aggressive approach towards the blockchain-based gaming sector.
The Future of Mobile Gaming
When asked about Zynga’s moves into the crypto universe, Wolf pointed towards “future-proofing” the company’s business as one of its main strategies. Rather than replacing their current output, he suggests that they are looking at enhancing their capabilities and that crypto, blockchain, NFTs and Web3 could potentially be huge. Zynga’s most successful games generate a compelling feedback loop that keeps players coming back.
“Ownership is probably one of the biggest things and the empowerment that comes with that, and the relationship that comes with that, and the trust, love, and loyalty that comes with that over time.”
According to Wolf, adding the possibility of ownership will give players even more reason to feel invested and to keep playing.
Something Borrowed or Something New?
When asked whether Zynga would be creating these games from scratch or updating an existing title like Farmville, Wolf said it makes more sense to rather build original blockchain games from the ground up but that some gameplay in the up and coming NFT titles will be inspired by the current Zynga arsenal.
One would think that the obvious choice is to base this project on Farmville, but Wolf was quoted as saying:
“Probably not Farmville right away, more along the lines of Mafia Wars. But to be inspired by that title, then build something that’s bespoke and purpose-built to this particular cohort that’s used to playing in a certain way, that’s our short-term strategy.”
Mafia Wars was once a popular, and since discontinued, social network game where the goal is to build a crime organization.
While the blockchain-based gaming sector is still quite new, the idea of gaming not only for fun but also for money is a very appealing one. Based on the success of titles like Axie Infinity, and with the drive and confidence that Zynga is moving into this field, one cannot help but get a little excited about the future of play-to-earn gaming.