Yesterday social gaming giant Zynga purchased NaturalMotion, developers of notable mobile games including the CSR Racing series, Backbreaker Football, and the official Jenga game for iOS and Android. TechCrunch reports that the $527 million purchase includes $391 million in cash and 39.8 million shares of Zynga stock. NaturalMotion operates offices in London, Oxford, Brighton, and San Francisco. 

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Zynga has plenty of apps for iOS and Android, notably Words With Friends and the official sequel to Draw Something (which Zynga got from another acquisition, OMGPop). But the company's stock price has been lagging below the $5 mark for over a year, about a third of their post-IPO high. Zynga gained its initial success from smash Facebook hits like Farmville, but the company's transition to mobile gaming has been rocky, with heavy criticism if its monetization methods and accusations of plagiarism from other game developers. Zynga laid off 15% of its workforce on Thursday.

In contrast, NaturalMotion has been steadily gaining players and acclaim since 2001. It specialized in simple but compelling mobile games - the CSR Racing franchise in particular is the archetypical touchscreen drag racing game. Clumsy Ninja is the company's latest title, with great reviews on iOS but no Android port yet. NaturalMotion got its start (and its name) creating animation middleware for movie production companies and other developers, including EA, Capcom, and Sega.

Will NaturalMotion help Zynga turn things around? The company's reputation may be permanently tarnished, but it's still sitting on over a billion dollars in assets. Combine production capital and talent, and you've got the beginning of something big. If Zynga can deliver the rest of the necessary ingredients - namely innovative ideas, solid development, and a monetization model that doesn't drive players away - who knows what it can accomplish.

Source: TechCrunch

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

    Oh God, why?
    Why this extra bloat-ejaculated Zynga shit do we have to bear with?

    *Uninstall Imminent*

  • Paul_Werner

    How quickly everyone forgets the great game "Horn" by Zynga. I know it's just one game but they have shown that they can create a great title... unless I missed some acquisition that made that game possible to be under the Zynga franchise

    • http://volumeboy-man.bandcamp.com/ VBM

      Phosphor made the game. Zynga published it... though I'm not sure what role they played "publishing" the title with it being a mobile game.

    • garychencool

      The issue with Horn was that it wasn't updated in a lonnggggg time and several devices didn't work with it. I got it for 10 cents so one day they will update it with fixes.

    • Himmat Singh

      Horn is developed by 3rd party devs and they were mere publishers. Horn was independently developed by Phosphor Games, who remain to be an independant company to this day.

      Still, the game is so shitty it ain't worth buying. Never got an update in its entire life.

      • Paul_Werner

        It just got updated recently though I think this was right after you posted this

  • http://volumeboy-man.bandcamp.com/ VBM

    Good for them.

  • Mystery Man

    I remember the bought draw something and ruined the game ._.

  • sourabh sekhar

    Am I the only one who thinks that Zynga is doomed to fail?

    • mustbepbs

      No. I'm actually surprised they have the money to purchase this company.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alessandrouk Alessandro Moraes dos Santos

    Zynga and the Game for the Rugby ? IRB Rugby

  • ThePaper

    Horn doesn't even work on my Nexus 7 2013. I bought it when I had a Original Galaxy Tab.

  • Stone Cold

    They are copying every other genre out there for the sake of a quick buck. They continually keep crapping on John Q consumer with their practices. They want you to buy the game then take away a function in the paid game but leave that same function in the free one.