Zynga Mobile – is this the next level of publisher?

As Jeffrey Grubb reports and recognises… “It’s hard to break through to gamers on mobile platforms. Thousands of games crowd the market, and it can cost a lot for an independent studio to acquire players.” Gee thanks for that… 😉

Not surprisingly, we have found this to be true, especially in new markets, like nonviolent educational mobile games for children like our Home Bear, which we have re-released in a free format to celebrate spring in the UK.

Perhaps some of the big boys have the answer. A couple of HUGE players are becoming publishers with very deep pockets (Tilt has apparently $40 million) to help the economy / game development community. Facebook is moving into helping push apps, and therefore games, onto android handsets with their Home screen ideas, and last year, Zynga introduced a third-party publishing platform in an attempt to directly address these issues.

Basically, smaller game development companies like Dojit, can build games and work with Zynga on monetization and marketing. Now, the company is looking to double-down on mobile publishing with new partners and better games.

On the mobile publishing side, we’ve really been taking a curated approach to working with the best developers to bring into our network,” Zynga vice president of mobile publishing told GamesBeat. Over the last 12 months, Zynga has worked with third-parties to launch games like Horn, Clay Jam, and Respawnables on iOS and Android.

Those games all had very successful launches and were very well received critically,” said Jones. Clay Jam, a casual physics game from developer Fat Pebble, has over one million downloads on Android alone. However, the BIG one is coming as Zynga is currently working with Inis, the studio that developed Elite Beat Agents for the Nintendo DS in 2006. The developer is working on a tower-offense title called Eden To Green that features detailed 3D visuals and turn-based gameplay.

We’re excited about Eden to Green,” said Jones. “It’s the first partner that encapsulates every step that we’re trying to do in mobile publishing, which is to make high-quality free-to-play social games. Inis is hitting every pillar that we look for in a company.”

Inis worked hand-in-hand with Zynga on every aspect of the project. The mobile game developer had a basic design concept, but Zynga was always providing feedback to help maximize its free-to-play model. In return, Zynga is rewarding Inis with a major cross-game promotional campaign to drive players to the title, which is out now in Canada. The companies are preparing to launch globally soon.

Beyond Eden to Green, Zynga also has a handful of other “high end” partners in its pocket that it is waiting to announce.

We want to marry our expertise with the best game developers in the world,” said Jones. “It could be simple 2D or complex 3D games, but if they’re free-to-play and social, I want to see them. I want to work with those mobile game developers and bring them into our network. We don’t want to put ourselves in a box.”

What we are interested at here at dojit, as we make clever, fun, free mobile games, is how are they bringing this knowledge across?

Is it an analytical system? And then how is the IP all sorted out? Who really owns the brand and the rights? And how much do independents with good ideas really need them to publish their ideas? It seems a little like a Warner Brothers working with writers even before they right the novel – and I only shudder to think what happens creatively and to the industry when this happens.

But maybe that’s just me. What do you think? Would Zynga’s guiding hand help your mobile games develop?