Farmville’s Ringing NASDAQ’s Opening Bell in Billion-Dollar IPO

The company most responsible for making Facebook a gaming destination will start to have their stock traded on Wall Street today, with shares going for $10 each. The initial public offering will likely make Zynga the second most valuable video game company after Activision but ahead of Electronic Arts.

Company CEO Mark Pincus and other Zynga execs will be remotely ringing the opening bell of the NASDAQ stock market from San Francisco this morning, ushering in a new future for the social gaming giant. Scrutiny on Zynga's been increasingly intense over the last few months, with a precipitous fluctuation in the company's estimated value as a side effect.

Zynga just launched Forestville on iOS this week, in a move designed to grow the company away from its reliance on Facebook. That symbiosis has been seen as a liability by some. Nevertheless, in the run-up to the company's IPO, Pincus has said that Zynga can double the number the amount of users who pay for in-game credits. While that pay-for-energy mechanic is what riles many users about Zynga's titles, it's also the kind of thing that provides a clear logic for investors. In a very real way, the next few months will place Zynga's fate in the hands of another, more volatile social network. Whether these new friends will continue to give Zynga financial energy will be up to how people respond to the games they make.