Web Games Developer Expands To Maryland

San Francisco-based Zynga Hints At Office In Timonium

July 01, 2009|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Zynga Inc., one of the largest developers of online games for social networks, said Tuesday that it will open its first East Coast office in the Baltimore region this year, and it will be led by an area veteran in the gaming industry.

The office will have 12 to 15 employees this year and will work on an unspecified new social network game, the company said.

Zynga East, the name of the new office, will also work on projects with the company's game developers in its San Francisco headquarters. The office is open now but in an undisclosed temporary space, a spokeswoman said.

The creator of such popular online games as Mafia Wars, Texas Hold'Em and Scramble also said it hired Brian Reynolds, an 18-year industry veteran who co-founded Firaxis Games in Hunt Valley and later Big Huge Games Inc. in Timonium, to lead the new office as chief designer.

The privately held company makes online games for various social networking Web sites and platforms, including Facebook, MySpace and the iPhone, and has millions of users. Zynga has attracted about $40 million in investment capital and has about 250 employees. It reportedly has annual sales around $100 million and is profitable.

In a news release, Zynga said it will be hiring game designers, Web developers, artists and producers, and Reynolds would be bringing some "key associates" with him to the company. Reynolds has broad experience in designing strategy-based games - a gaming approach favored by Zynga.

The location of the office was not released, but Lisa Chan, a Zynga spokeswoman, said the office will likely be in the Timonium area. The move brings a new competitor to the electronic gaming industry in Baltimore County. Others include Firaxis, Big Huge Games and BreakAway Ltd.

Zynga officials could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

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