Zynga buys Draw Something developer OMGPOP

Less than six weeks after the launch of their biggest game, OMGPOP has been bought out by casual games giant Zynga. Apparently, talks have been going on in secret for several weeks, with Mark Pincus and his team coming out the winners.

The price tag? $180 million in cash/stock, plus $30 million in employee-retention payments, meaning the Draw Something team of 40 people should (hopefully) be safe under the new umbrella.

Draw Something

Draw With Friends?

The $180m purchase price illustrates Zynga‘s level of confidence in the developer: Just two years ago, the company paid just $53m in cash and stock for Newtoy, the creators of Words With Friends. The price also suggests Zynga is seriously looking outside the Facebook platform. While Draw Something consistently tops the “most popular” Facebook lists, that’s a loophole: The game barely touches Facebook servers once users log in with their social networking account.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus explains:

The OMGPOP team has created a game that’s fun, expressive and engenders real social interaction. Draw Something has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world. We love the way they’ve worked playful and relevant culture into their games from Devo to Daft Punk, from Lin to Beckham.

We’re honored to have the opportunity to partner with and support such an innovative team of creative inventors.

Despite appearances to the contrary, OMGPOP is actually not an overnight success. The New York-based company has been around for five years, creating a number of casual online games as both OMGPOP and i’m in like with you.

It’s unlikely that those earlier projects really had much sway over the recent purchase, however, with Draw Something the obvious target. The social smartphone version of Pictionary is “astonishingly popular”, taking out the top spot in both the “top paid” and “top free” iTunes charts. Reportedly, even after Apple takes its 30% cut, OMGPOP is snagging around $250,000 a day from the game.

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