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Zynga drums up $147m investment

Softbank funds social networking dev's move into Asia

Zynga, the Californian creator of social networking games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has secured $147 million in investment from Japanese telecoms giant Softbank Corp.

As part of the deal, Softbank will localise and distribute Zynga titles on its phone and broadband networks - including Yahoo! Japan, of which Softbank is the majority shareholder. It will also help promote Zynga's games in other Asian territories, including China.

This is not the first major major cash injection into Zynga. Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies picked up a $180 million stake in the controversial developer (who has previously been accused of plagiarism and advertising scams) last year. The developer has since opened new studios in LA, India and China.

The investment follows a cold war between Zynga and Facebook, the site through which it has found its greatest success. As a result of a disagreement about Zynga games' exclusivity to Facebook, feed notifications for titles such as FarmVille were deactivated, causing a loss of several million players.

Zynga is now looking to self-host its games, though it has now reached a five-year agreement with Facebook on the thorny matter of virtual currency.

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