Zynga’s patent purchases from the last year indicate that the social gaming giant is looking at a land-based future.

According to multiple published reports Zynga went on a bit of a patent buying spree in 2012. As 2011 closed, the company held a single patent, with another nine pending. By the end of 2012, they held 89 patents and had 36 in pending status.

While most of the patents were developed in-house, as many as 38 of those were purchased from Walker Digital, a company that had once sued Zynga for patent infringement. But it’s what’s in those patents that has the gaming world buzzing.

A number of the patents in this portfolio revolve around systems designed to serve, what sounds like, a land-based version of Elite Slots, a social slots network. In that game, teams of slots players work together to reach various goals and prizes.

Zynga’s been flirting the with the idea of land-based gaming for some time now. Late last year, they began the process of obtaining a Nevada Gaming License.  The social gaming giant has also expressed an interest in working with Wynn Casinos, so there’s nothing too surprising about the contents of the patent portfolio.

Moving into the land-based market is a pretty sound strategy for a company that’s been struggling on all fronts lately. Between the rise of mobile gaming and a general dissatisfaction with many of their Facebook-based games, Zynga’s once massive player base is rapidly dwindling. (And that’s to say nothing of their stock price.)

Don’t be surprised to hear a lot more about their moves into life outside the Internet as 2013 rolls on.

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