Seeking a Reversal of Fortune, Zynga Gets A Bit Lucky

Zynga announced this afternoon that it has acquired A Bit Lucky, a small game studio that is focused on making “mid-core” games.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is likely a fairly small deal given that the 20-plus person team had raised roughly $8 million in capital over its three years of operations.

Zynga is looking for a catalyst to revive its stock, and maybe an acquisition that will allow it to expand beyond light social entertainment into a new genre of games will help.

In an interview, Zynga’s General Manager Bill Jackson said the acquisition will help bolster the company’s ability to make games that appeal more to hardcore players, something it had already been working on internally.

Frederic Descamps, A Bit Lucky’s CEO, said Zynga’s vision for the genre was closely aligned with their roadmap.

“We started as a social games company on Facebook, but a few months ago we changed directions to mid-core gaming. Over the past few months, we’ve been talking about what’s next for us, and how do we make mid-core multiplatform games. In the end, it was pretty clear that it was the best choice for us,” he said.

A Bit Lucky had launched two Facebook games, Lucky Train and Lucky Space. Those two games were shut down recently to focus on its new game, Solstice Arena, which has not launched yet. When it does launch, it will work across multiple platforms, including some combination of mobile, PC and tablet.

While mid-core gaming can have a number of definitions, Descamps said that this is a real-time multiplayer battle game that will be played by gamers across multiple platforms.

Descamps said he was not concerned that Zynga’s mostly casual userbase would not overlap well with the more hardcore users it was seeking.

“I believe Zynga’s audience is several times the size of my country,” said the French native. “They have all sorts of players. I play all kinds of Zynga games, even though I’m a super hardcore player,” he said.

Here is the note that Descamps and Jordan Maynard, the chief creative officer and CTO of A Bit Lucky, sent out this afternoon:

Jordan and I have a great piece of news: A Bit Lucky and Zynga are teaming up! Today, Zynga is announcing the acquisition of A Bit Lucky and, as of this week, all 20+ of A Bit Lucky’s employees will become part of Zynga San Francisco.

After exploring various options and talking to a lot of interested partners, Jordan and I are convinced Zynga is the best choice for us. Zynga sees something very special in A Bit Lucky and the team we have assembled.
Likewise, why we picked Zynga is pretty simple: it was truly a meeting of the minds. At Zynga, we met people like us: passionate hardcore game developers animated by a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

We greatly enjoyed exchanging with Bill Jackson, Steve Chiang, Mark Skaggs, all folks with very impressive gaming pedigrees. Especially, meeting Mark Pincus was a turning point for us.

His passion to define a new way to play and his entrepreneurial drive are very contagious. Jordan and I are excited to work with them every day to build great mid-core multi-platform games and grow this new category together.

We are very excited about this new adventure, and we’re looking forward to launching Solstice Arena as part of Zynga!

As usual, feel free to send us your resumes if you want to join us on this new adventure.

Jordan and I would like to thank our investors and our advisors (David Lawee, David Helgason, Larry Chu, Andrew Trader) for their support, as well as the entire team at A Bit Lucky for all their dedication and hard work!

Thanks!
Cheers,
Frederic & Jordan


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik