December is proving to be a watershed moment for online gaming companies: Just a few days after Farmville creator Zynga initiated a lower-than-expected(-but-still-massive) IPO, rival company Nexon set the price for its IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It’s likely to become the biggest Japanese IPO of the year, according to The New York Times. Nexon has a considerably smaller consumer base than Zynga — about 77 million active monthly players, versus Zynga’s estimated 260 million. It’s an interesting moment for the social gaming companies: Because of the extremely fraught economic climate, Zynga’s IPO was valued at $9 billion, which is considerably lower than expectations. (Forbes estimated that the valuation instantly lost Zynga CEO Mark Pincus about $650 million.)
It will be interesting to see how well Zynga and Nexon perform as publicly traded companies, especially since — if you think about it — online social games are sort of like their own metaphorical economies. Except that the economy of FarmVille is entirely managed by Zynga, whereas the economy of the United States was supposed to be managed by an invisible hand that turned out to be so invisible it didn’t exist. In conclusion, Adam Smith was wrong, and FarmVille is probably about to become the most successful socialist organization since the National Football League.
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