Bitcoin back over $1,000 after endorsement by game giant Zynga
The online service company, responsible for millions of hours spent plowing virtual land and raising virtual cows, said Saturday it would sell virtual goods and premium currency in some of its titles for bitcoins.
“In response to bitcoin’s rise in popularity around the world, Zynga, with help from BitPay, is testing expanded payment options for players to make in-game purchases using bitcoin,” the California-based company announced on Reddit’s website.
Zynga games supporting bitcoins will include FarmVille 2, CastleVille, ChefVille, CoasterVille, Hidden Chronicles, Hidden Shadows and CityVille, the announcement said.
Bitcoin, the controversial digital currency that exists only as software and is not controlled by any central bank, has so far had little acceptance in the gaming world. Zynga is the first major player in the industry to accept bitcoins.
As an early adopter, the company may hope to change its recent bad luck and overturn the recent drop in its active user base, according to Techcrunch. Bitcoin transaction costs are lower than those of traditional currencies, which makes the cryptocurrency attractive.
It’s not yet clear whether Zynga plans to extend its acceptance of bitcoins to its mobile games and online gambling branches.
The endorsement helped bitcoin, a commodity notorious for its wide price swings, to again climb past the $1,000 mark. It surged to about $1,119 on the Mt.Gox online exchange, one of the largest portals trading bitcoins for dollars, euros and other traditional currencies.
Bitcoin dropped below the $1,000 benchmark in mid-December after news from China that the country’s largest bitcoin exchange had halted operation due to a People’s Bank of China probe. The Chinese government was disturbed by the growing popularity of the currency and reports of its links to money laundering.
The currency ran into similar trouble in India, where regulators closed a local exchange due to “security risks” to traders.
The cryptocurrency has an ambiguous reputation, as the anonymous nature of the transactions it allows make it an attractive payment method for illegal trade. Bitcoin made headlines last year due to a bust on the shady online market SilkRoad, which traded drugs, guns and other illicit good for bitcoins.
However, acceptance of the cryptocurrency is growing, Business Insider reports. Texas Congressman Steve Stockman announced last week that he will be accepting bitcoin donations for his senatorial campaign against incumbent John Cornyn, and Fortress Investment Group is launching a bitcoin fund for its clients.