Zynga buys casual games startup Wild Needle

Last month, we reported that Zynga was ready to compete with $1.8 billion dollars in cash available for acquisitions, and that Zynga was very likely to be putting the majority of its spending money into the rapidly expanding mobile market. Less than a month later, Zynga has used their extra cash to buy mobile gaming startup Wild Needle.

Wild Needle, funded in 2010 by Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson, is a mobile startup built around casual games for the female demographic. They officially entered the games market with Shoptown, an economy sim game, this March.

What makes this purchase interesting, however, is that it’s not nearly as lucrative as some of Zynga’s past purchases. Traditionally, Zynga will buy out a company after it has dropped a major hit, such as the purchase of OMGPOP with Draw Something. Wild Needle, on the other hand, hasn’t accomplished much. Their only game, Shoptown, saw small success before being pulled from the App Store in April.

It’s very likely that the pulls were as a result of the merger, but it’s still a curious decision. Most of the time, apps will remain in the App Store as publishers change. Perhaps Zynga is looking to retool elements from Shoptown into a new game.

It’s also interesting to note that this acquisition is in the light of CrowdStar, another female-focused casual game developer, and their decision to leave Facebook games in order to pursue mobile. While CrowdStar and Zynga used to clash for the top spot on Facebook’s charts at the beginning of the decade, we might be seeing them fight once more in the mobile realm.

Whatever does come out of the Wild Needle acquisition, the same thing remains true: Zynga has a lot of purchasing power, and they’re slowly pressing their presence into the mobile market.

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