If you thought the disproportionate cartoon characters in Zynga's (Nasdaq: ZNGA ) massively popular CastleVille game were to be forever relegated to the ethereal realm of cyberspace, think again.
Toy maker Hasbro (Nasdaq: HAS ) and Zynga have announced a partnership that grants Hasbro the rights to develop toys and games based on Zynga's brands. The company now has the ability to develop and distribute any number of offerings based on FarmVille or CityVille, among other popular names.
The move is certainly intended to strengthen both companies' brands and awareness, but there are limits on their matrimony. Zynga won't have the rights to make digital versions of many of Hasbro's timeless board game classics like Monopoly, as that privilege has long been held by gaming Goliath Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: EA ) .
It's even more interesting that Hasbro is partnering with the acquisitive social game maker, since Zynga bought smaller developer Newtoy just over a year ago. Thanks to that acquisition, Zynga's repertoire now includes the popular mobile game Words With Friends, which is a pretty blatant ripoff of one of Hasbro's longtime cash cows, Scrabble.
Words With Friends trounces EA's Scrabble app in the mobile arena, with over 20 times more daily active users. Words With Friends sees about 8.8 million players every day, compared to Scrabble's measly 410,000.
Zynga's trying to promote its brand strength in the same way that Angry Birds has stepped into the real world with its branded t-shirts, backpacks, and an unofficial theme park in China. Zynga will never reach Angry Birds-esque levels of recognition, and it doesn't help that Zynga's actual business model involves blatant ripoffs, which only hurts its brand perception.
With Zynga's first public earnings release set for next week, we'll let the numbers speak for themselves. It won't take much for Zynga to make a better first impression than fellow overhyped IPO and social butterly Groupon (Nasdaq: GRPN ) did.
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