Without Amazon.com, Zynga might not be where it is today. The social gaming powerhouse, which just last week filed to raise up to $1 billion through an initial public offering, has been able to grow its business at hyperspeed in part due to the flexibility in server capacity provided through Amazon Web Services.
Just as Zynga relies on Facebook as the consumer-facing platform, the company also relies on Amazon on the back-end to make sure that games such as CityVille and Words With Friends are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner
But VentureBeat notes that the arrangement may be subject to change, with reporter Dean Takahashi pointing out that Zynga is now investing heavily in its own data center operations. It will continue to rely on Amazon and other third-party providers, but the IPO filing indicates that Zynga wants to take some of those operations in-house as well.
“During the second half of 2011, we expect to make capital expenditures of approximately $100 million to $150 million as we invest in network infrastructure to support our expected growth and to continue to improve the player experience,” the company wrote in its IPO filing.
While Amazon Web Services has allowed Zynga to quickly scale, relying on a third-party data center provider does have its own risks. That was noted in the Zynga IPO filing, which cited last April’s outage at Amazon Web Services which knocked FarmVille and CityVille offline for several hours.
“Our technology infrastructure is critical to the performance of our games and to player satisfaction. Our games run on a complex distributed system, or what is commonly known as cloud computing. We own, operate and maintain elements of this system, but significant elements of this system are operated by third parties that we do not control and which would require significant time to replace. We expect this dependence on third parties to continue. In particular, a significant majority of our game traffic is hosted by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, which service uses multiple locations. We have experienced, and may in the future experience, website disruptions, outages and other performance problems due to a variety of factors, including infrastructure changes, human or software errors and capacity constraints.”
When Zynga picked Seattle for one of its engineering centers earlier this year, it tapped none other than former Amazon vice president of engineering Neil Roseman to help lead the charge.
At the time, we thought that Zynga was most interested in Seattle’s burgeoning gaming community as one of the reasons that it located here. But maybe the Amazon talent pool — people who’ve scaled massive Web properties and built huge data centers– was even more important to the overall mission.
In fact, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus alluded to the “technology challenge” facing Zynga on the back-end during his visit to Seattle in April.
Previously on GeekWire: Zynga CEO Mark Pincus: ‘We are a confederation of entrepreneurs’