Zynga is expanding its mobile ambitions by apparently picking up New York City-based game developer Astro Ape Studios. The gaming powerhouse, which is preparing to go public, has been increasingly looking to shore up its mobile efforts, which have not been as successful as its Facebook business.
We’re still waiting on confirmation of the deal, but CEO and Co-Founder Chieh Huang, Co-Founder Chris Cheung and CTO William Fong have all taken titles at “Zynga NY” according to LinkedIn, with Huang listing his new title as Director, while Cheung and Fong are Director of Game Design and Director of Engineering respectively. Other Astro Ape employees have also made the jump to Zynga. Business Insider first reported the acquisition.
Astro Ape produces a handful of mobile social games, including Office Heroes, Desert Heroes, Montsterz Revenge and most recently, Vegas Strip City, the company’s first Android title, which was developed exclusively for DeNA’s Mobage social gaming platform. Japanese gaming giant DeNA is an investor in Astro Ape. Astro Ape has focused on putting together quality social games for mobile that are engaging and artistic. Astro Ape was launched in the basement of Fong’s mother’s home in New Jersey and rode its first hit Office Heroes to bigger digs in New York, where it has expanded quickly.
The move shows that Zynga is continuing its acquisition spree and is focusing its sights on mobile companies. In the company’s S-1, it said that almost all its revenue comes from Facebook right now but the big opportunity is to diversify to mobile, which is exploding. Zynga also bought Five Mobile last month and Wonderland Software in April and has been getting good business from its pick-up of New Toy in December. It recently took out a $1 billion credit facility to fund more pick-ups. Astro Ape would be the 16th acquisition in 14 months for Zynga.
The mobile gaming landscape is also shifting as bigger gaming companies are looking to scoop up hot mobile properties. EA spent $750 million for PopCap and Digital Chocolate just bought Sandlot games. Astro Ape is a far cry from Angry Birds maker Rovio, but it shows that Zynga is very much on the hunt for mobile talent, and it’s gearing up to be a player in mobile gaming.