Does Amazon Really Want to Be the Next Zynga?

Amazon.com (Nasdsaq: AMZN) apparently isn't afraid to dive into crowded markets.

The leading online retailer is introducing its first social game this week. Living Classics is a moving object game. Players essentially analyze live illustrations, clicking away at the animated objects that are moving.

It may sound silly, but it's perfectly reasonable to the countless folks playing hidden and moving object games on Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  ) .

Amazon Game Studios is giving its first name a literary spin in honor of its bibliophile fan base. After all, the illustrations take players into the pages of colorful classics, including The Wizard of Oz and King Arthur. The first level involves finding foxes that have wandered into Alice in Wonderland.

Living Classics debuted on Facebook, and a little tire kicking yesterday revealed a game that pulls on the same viral and monetization strings as social gaming giant Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA  ) . Players are encouraged to share their achievements through their Facebook feeds, invite friends to play along, and pay up with real money when they run out of virtual currency to unlock higher levels.

It remains to be seen what Amazon has to gain here. There's a reason why Facebook prefers to be an agnostic platform than to dabble into proprietary games that developers may interpret as a competitive threat or a conflict of interest.

If Amazon wants to keep game makers happy, competing against them may not be the best move. However, there's plenty to gain if Amazon scores a hit, especially if it can eventually woo gamers to embrace the company's many digital media platforms.

The ultimate moving object here is Amazon. It may seem crazy to be throwing its hat into this cluttered ring where even the market leader is getting clobbered, but it just may be crazy like a fox if it has greater motives for this move.

Fox and the hound
It seems as if everybody wants to be Zynga, even though the social gaming pioneer appears to be unloved at the moment. A new premium report is available detailing Zynga's challenges and opportunities. Want more? The report includes a free year of updates. Check it out now.  Or if Facebook’s more your fancy, especially as it’s now trading well below its IPO prices, you can check out the Fool’s premium report on the social networking giant, as well, right here.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz was quick to find the foxes. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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