Zynga confirms purchase of Japanese social game firm Unoh

Zynga confirmed it has acquired Tokyo-based social game company Unoh for an undisclosed price.

The deal is part of Zynga’s geographic diversification strategy and expansion into the Japanese market. Unoh will serve as the foundation of Zynga Japan’s mobile game business. Last week, Zynga raised $150 million in venture money from SoftBank and said it would form a joint venture with SoftBank to make mobile games in Japan.

Robert Goldberg (formerly a VentureBeat advisor) will become chief executive of Zynga Japan. He said in a phone call that Zynga is in a good position now in Japan, having executed its expansion strategy there in the course of a few months.

“We are going to bring a lot of resources to bear,” he said.

Unoh, founded in 2001, is one of the top social game companies in Japan with titles such as Machitsuku!, Band Yarouyo! and Kaizoku Chronicle. Zynga Japan will keep Unoh’s games on the mobile game portals Mixi, Mobage-Town and Gree. And Zynga Japan will localize Zynga games for the Japanese market. Unoh’s chief executive and founder is Shintaro Yamada. Techcrunch previously reported the deal would be announced soon. The purchase price was reportedly around $30 million, but Goldberg declined to comment on that.

Zynga has more than 230 million monthly active users playing its game and is the biggest player in social games. But it is very dependent on Facebook for its revenues and needs to diversify if it is to fulfill its plans to go public. Goldberg said that the Japanese mobile social game market will probably be more than $1 billion in revenues this year. By 2012, it could double. That explains why Zynga moved so fast into the market.

Goldberg said that definite plans still have to be formed, but he believes that Zynga Japan will be able to bring its games to a variety of the platforms, including the mobile carriers and the mobile social networks such as Mixi, Mobage-Town, and Gree.

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