Hey, if it meant you could get access to half a billion customers, you'd ditch Facebook, too.
Zynga's games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars are pretty much synonymous with Facebook, but it turns out this won't be the case in China. In order to get into the country, the casual game company has had to divorce itself from the social network and seek new publishing partners in order to tap into the country's vast population.
It turns out that Facebook is blocked in China, meaning that Zynga really didn't have a choce if it wanted to get its games into the People's Republic. As a result, Zynga's joined forces with Tencent Holdings Limited, which "runs some of the most popular services in China including the Tencent QQ IM service, web portals, multiplayer online games, and social networks."
Tencent is actually pretty enormous. It's got 647 million active accounts and its net worth ($38 billion) placed third behind Google and Amazon. Unsurprisingly, this makes the group a pretty ideal partner for Zynga, and Tencent will launch CityVille under the new name of Zynga City. The game will be unveiled on the Pengyou platform and will eventually transition to QZone (China's largest social network, which has 480 million users and is still growing).
China's an incredibly tempting market for game companies, especially those like Zynga which specialize in casual games that make money by getting players to spend real-world cash on virtual goods. As a result, it's not too surprising to see the developer get a new dance partner in order for the chance to have access to almost 500 million potential customers.