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Fewer ‘Ville’s

Ajit Deshpande - - 0 Comments

Last week, leading social game developer Zynga announced that over the month of December it had followed through with its planned closure of 11 game titles, including Petville, Forestville, Fishville and Mafia Wars 2. As part of the announcement, Zynga also mentioned it was shifting its focus towards mobile games, and was also applying to run real-money gambling games in the state of Nevada.

Zynga’s rise as a pioneer in social strategy gaming is well-chronicled. Indeed, Zynga still dwarfs all other app developers on the Facebook platform in terms of MAU, with Farmville 2 currently being the most popular Facebook game. However, the next four most popular games in order are Texas HoldEm Poker (from Zynga), Candy Crush Saga (from King.com), Bubble Safari Ocean (from Zynga) and Diamond Dash (from Wooga), all of which are skill-based card/arcade games rather than strategy games. According to Flurry, social strategy games have a retention rate after 90 days of ~30%, and it does seem now that interest is waning on the whole for this game category. In that context, Zynga’s increased focus on games geared towards mobility (a much more tangible trend, with possibly greater long term monetization potential), and real-money gambling (which leverages human psyche) is an excellent ploy.

Question is, does Zynga have what it takes to become a player in mobile gaming? Zynga’s best mobile game currently is in-house developed Poker, ranked just outside the top 10 for iPhones, whereas two of its high profile acquisitions, Words with Friends and Draw Something languish outside the top 50. Clearly the company hasn’t picked its winners well. Mobile platforms offer a lot for gamers – anytime, anywhere access and possibilities for cross-platform, turn-based and multi-screen settings – and companies like Rovio, Ngmoco and King.com have successfully used these options to varying degrees in creating top grossing games. In fact, King.com is showing that it is possible to do well on both Facebook and in mobile. Does Zynga have it in its DNA to do the same? If not, then they might need to buy their way into mobility, and given their track record that’s not the best proposition for them.

As for now, it’s so long Petville…

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