Just minutes ahead of its Q3 earnings call, Zynga dropped a bit of a bombshell: The company has signed a deal with bwin.party that will see the companies partner on real-money gambling in the UK via poker and casino games.
Here’s how the partnership will apparently work: Zynga will operate real-money gaming in the UK under bwin.party’s Gibraltar license.
For poker, Zynga will use the bwin.party platform (might want to work some of those bugs out first) and players will join the Party Poker player pool.
It will be interesting to see if the combined injection of bwin players and Zynga players will be enough to allow Party to hold its recently-regained #2 spot in the online poker traffic rankings. Many, but not all, expect Full Tilt Poker to quickly contest that spot when the site relaunches on November 6th of this year.
Fewer details are available regarding the casino games that will come out of the Zynga/bwin,party partnership. The announcement release puts the total number of games to be offered at 180 (including slots and classic table games), and the target date for rollout as first half of 2013. I assume most (or all) of those will be drawn from the current bwin.party portfolio, an assumption supported by comments in the Q3 earnings call.
One last interesting tidbit about what will almost certainly become a trend in the months ahead: Zynga will be pushing a FarmVille-themed slot to UK players at some point in the next year.
“Today’s announcement is another example of our success in leveraging our assets through strategic blue-chip partners,” said Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEOs of bwin.party. “Zynga is the world’s leader in social games with hundreds of millions of active players worldwide and a significant player base in the UK. We are delighted to have been selected as their chosen partner for this important step in their evolution, and hope to expand our relationship into other products and markets.”
In Zynga’s quarterly earnings call, Zynga CFO Dave Wehner called the partnership “only a first step,” albeit an “important” one. The company refused to provide any revenue projections or additional information regarding the structure of the bwin.party partnership.