Zynga Takes Ownership of Physics Technology in GTA V

Zynga, the company best known for mobile and browser games such as Farmville, announced on Thursday that it will acquire NaturalMotion. NaturalMotion is the developer behind the Euphoria physics technology from Grand Theft Auto V, among others.

The news was announced by CEO Don Mattrick during a discussion of Q4 2013 financial results. Games like Max Payne 3, the GTA IV and V games, Red Dead Redemption and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed are taking advantage of the Euphoria Physics Engine for character movements. Whether Zynga will license the use of Euphoria to game developers in the future is unknown, but this seems likely.

Oxford based NaturalMotion teamed up with developer Rockstar in 2007 to bring Euphoria physics to the GTA games. The innovative thing about Euphoria is that the physics engine calculates on the fly how, for example, a character reacts to a fall from a staircase or a collision by a car, and does not need to use pre-created animations. The engine was therefore more extensive than that of Havok at the time. In addition to the Euphoria engine, NaturalMotion also has a number of successful mobile games in its portfolio.

The acquisition involves an amount of approximately EUR 290 million in cash. Zynga’s decision is striking as the company still made a loss in the last quarter of last year. For that reason, Zynga will immediately lay off 314 employees, which amounts to 15 percent of the entire workforce.