Zynga Leverages Android Market Improvements for Mobile Expansion

Leveraging a recent mobile game studio acquisition, Zynga said today it plans to launch its second game for the Android operating system later this month.

The announcement piggybacks on a number of improvements Google announced today as part of its Honeycomb mobile operating system, including in-app purchases and the ability to browse and shop for applications from your computer.

Up until now there wasn’t a ton of motivation for game makers like Zynga to adopt the Android platform because it was so difficult to monetize.

Zynga, which is known for its social games for Facebook, including CityVille and Mafia Wars, gives games away for free and monetizes by selling virtual goods to players.

Until today’s announcements, that was very difficult on Android, making Apple’s iOS the preferred platform.

“I think [in-app purchases] are huge for Zynga and all app developers,” Zynga’s Paul Bettner told Mobilized’s Ina Fried at the Google event this afternoon. He said the friction is lower and in-app purchases are already huge on the iOS. “It’s massive for us.”

Already, its Zynga Poker app was on Android, but it is adding Words With Friends, a game that was originally built by Newtoy and which has more than 10 million users on Apple iOS. The release of Words With Friends signals Zynga’s commitment to embracing other platforms. Now both Android and Apple users will be able to play against each other cross-platform.

Zynga says the features will be the same on both platforms, including the ability to play up to 20 simultaneous games at a time, in-game chat and push notifications. It will be released later this month and be free, with an ad-free premium version coming later.

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