Is Zynga Poker preparing to compete for real money poker?

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Posted on Oct 23rd 2010  -  Subject: Is Zynga Poker preparing to compete for real money poker?

Zynga, the game developer that created Texas Holdem on Facebook, has been actively growing internally and by acquisition and posturing to position itself for a post UIGEA arena. Since Zynga Poker's launch in 2007, it has become the third most popular application on Facebook with more than 28 million people playing each month from more than 100 countries. Players can choose from a variety of tournaments and casual games, compare themselves to others on the leaderboard, all for free.

In August, Zynga Texas Poker made their games available to Hong Kong and Taiwanese Facebook users in a first effort to attract more of the large Asian market.  Outsiders have speculated that Zynga would like to position itself to offer real money poker once online poker become fully legal and regulated.  Others feel that is a more daunting task that it appears.  The conversion of free money or play chip players into real money players is not an easy process.

One thing that is clear is that Zynga is ahead of all online games in taking full advantage of social media to spread it's popularity. The question is whether they could do so as effectively if they weren't piggy backing on Facebook's platform.

One piece of evidence leads me to think that Zynga may go another route.  In March of 2010, they filed a patent application for the control of non-redeemable virtual currency and/or poker chips bought with real currency in virtual games.  If successful, Zynga would control all forms of virtual currency so that individual players who purchase virtual chips with real money couldn't buy and sell them.  They could then effectively sell their virtual chips to players who want to play their games online and then control it so that they aren't a currency that can be cashed out or sold once accumulated. This would give Zynga tremendous power and an earning source as millions of players seek to invest or reload in their playing experience of their various games, whether it's poker or Farmville. Zynga could derive tremendous revenue from the sale of virtual currency that couldn't ever be sold or cashed out.

Source: Tech Crunch

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