Zynga Buys Chinese Social Game Developer XPD Media

XPD Media, a social game developer based in Beijing, has sold to Zynga for an undisclosed amount. China is home to many dynamic smaller social game developers, but Zynga has not had an official presence in the country to date. Rivals, like Playfish, have.

With the acquisition, XPD cofounders will take on strategic regional roles with Zynga, and its 40 person team will make up the core of a new Beijing studio. Robin Chan, who previously worked at Verizon (and is an angel investor in Twitter), will be Zynga’s new General Manager of Asia Business Operations. Andy Tian, who handled mobile partnerships for Google China, will run the studio. Zynga is now hiring locally, as it has begun advertising for recently.
Zynga has offices around the US, in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Baltimore. It has also opened an engineering office in Bangalore, India.

XPD has been running games on Facebook and on Chinese social networks like RenRen, and it will continue doing both under Zynga. It has already developed a relatively popular simulation game called Medical Mayhem on Facebook. The game grew last fall, and had more than a million monthly active users and more than 200,000 daily active users as recently as a month ago. But note that XPD shut it down recently, apparently as part of the acquisition.

The company has also gained hundreds of thousands of daily active users on Chinese social networks, and it will continue to serve the local market. The Chinese government’ restricts foreign developers from owning majority stakes in gaming companies in the country, and it requires all companies to have an expensive license to operate. The social networks themselves typically handle the licenses, and developers publish their games on their platforms through them.

The sale of XPD also marks an exit for Silicon Valley investment firm True Ventures and New York-based venture and private equity firm Pilot Group.