Zynga is doubling down on mobile games, buying mobile game developer Newtoy, which is best known for the hit iOS game Words With Friends. During a conference call this morning, David Ko, who joined Zynga as the company’s mobile chief in October, said the addition of Newtoy will help the social game giant extend all of its titles to the mobile phone.
Zynga currently has a dozen or so iPhone apps, and Ko said the company has seen “massive demand” for them. About 10 million people are using the company’s games on their phones. That figure should be more than doubled with the addition of Words With Friends and the other Newtoy titles, which have been downloaded more than 12 million times. Zynga says Newtoy, which has 23 employees, will now work on building its existing franchise and on launching new titles for Zynga.
The purchase of Newtoy is the latest in a string of acquisitions for Zynga. To date, however, only one of the company’s other buys — Japan-based Unoh, which it bought up in August — has been mobile-focused.
Newtoy was founded two years ago by brothers Paul and David Bettner, who previously worked at Microsoft-owned game developer Ensemble Studios, which was best known for developing Age of Empires, and started Newtoy after Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) shut that studio down. This is the second Ensemble Studios spin-off that Zynga has bought. In October, it purchased Bonfire Studios, a startup that was also founded by several former Ensemble employees. That acquisition formed the basis of Zynga’s Dallas studio.