Earlier this year, toy maker Hasbro (Nasdaq: HAS ) and social-game maker Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA ) inked a partnership that gave Hasbro the rights to make toys and games using Zynga's stable of popular characters and brands.
In August, Hasbro announced that it was launching four new board games bearing Zynga branding in October. Well, it's now October, so these four games should be available at your favorite retail toy store. The brands include Words With Friends, Draw Something, FarmVille, and CityVille. Hasbro's timeless Monopoly will get a CityVille edition, and FarmVille characters will be incorporated into a version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
The most interesting aspect, though, is that Words With Friends and Draw Something are little more than knockoffs of Hasbro's Scrabble and Pictionary titles, respectively. That means Hasbro is partnering with Zynga to essentially knock itself off in an odd branding strategy aimed at attracting younger players that might be more familiar with the mobile variants.
Despite Zynga's penchant for knocking off others, these two titles weren't even originally developed in-house. Zynga picked up Words With Friends when it acquired NewToy in 2010, and scooped up Draw Something through the controversial acquisition of OMGPOP earlier this year. So Zynga acquired two knock-off brands and was somehow able to finagle a branding deal with the owner of the original games using said brands on the original games.
Adding insult to injury, Hasbro has also ended its relationship with Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: EA ) over making the mobile game versions of its titles, while EA and Zynga remain at each other's throats. EA has sued Zynga over a knockoff, and now Zynga is using its knockoffs to cut in on its dance with Hasbro. This love triangle is at least dramatic, if not ironic.
I've always been highly skeptical of Zynga's overall business, and I've outlined all of my reasons in detail in this comprehensive premium report. It comes with regular updates at no additional cost. Click here to grab a copy.