To sum it up in a nutshell, Zynga has been a growing, creative, and lucrative developer since 2009. Their first major hit in 2007 was Texas Hold’Em Poker, now known as Zynga Poker. What really got them noticed after becoming Facebook’s number one app developer in April 2009, was Farmville. Soon after Farmville retained its own website and became Zynga’s first game to stand on its own. For the next few years this Facebook powerhouse began to expand their company. Buying out other studios and took on those companies projects as well. Games like Words With Friends and Draw Something joined their roster while they developed new material. Everything probably seemed as if it was perfect within the confinement of the social networking world. But their success was a double edge sword whether they realized it ahead of time or not.
The reason for Zynga’s success was due to Facebook. In actuality their products and future grew completely dependant on the social network. Though the partnership was strong and thriving, Zynga needed Facebook more than Facebook needed Zynga. It was reported in 2010 that Zynga actually threatened to leave Facebook because of the network requiring monetization for its applications. Soon after both entities entered a five year agreement, Zynga most likely realized their dependance and decided to retain their relationship. However, Facebook ended its agreement with Zynga in 2013.
Zynga’s viability has been in question since their business model has not been the strongest for long term goals. Advertising will be their biggest form of revenue since stepping away from Facebook. The shadow that the social networking giant casts will loom over Zynga for years to come. However, keep in mind that in a time-span of four years, Zynga surpassed the market value of Electronic Arts. Impressive, but only plausible because of Facebook’s massive number of active users. It is going to be a challenge for Zynga’s new CEO, Don Mattrick, to pull away from Facebook and the company’s past discrepancies and lead them on a new path in the industry.
Since taking the seat of power, Mattrick has made it a point to cut excess expenses and has been looking to take chances. While cutting most of his workforce, it seems Zynga is biding time and pushing toward mobile gaming. He is making an attempt to push Zynga in an independant direction that will surely take some time. Making their social games available on mobile devices is a smart choice in my opinion. Everywhere you go nowadays, everyone is either on a phone or on a tablet, interacting with some kind of application. Making their games easily accessible and maintaining a similar audience to when Zynga was grouped with Facebook is a smart direction. No doubt the majority of players that played Zynga’s games on the social network were playing on their phones to begin with.
Not only is Don attempting to maintain the company’s success outside of Facebook, he is also changing the way the company selects and chooses what games to develop. The CEO is listening to what his audience wants. He is paying attention to consumer research. “Hey, we should be creating experiences in categories that we know consumers love.” in an interview with GamesBeat Mattrick said. Zynga is working on developing games they know the public want and love because they have already had so much success off these hits. Sounds to me like Don Mattrick is making Zynga into an actual game developing company in the industry, not just a social networking scam paradigm. With this guy in their corner, Zynga might do just fine without Facebook.
FarmVille 2 for mobile devices is said to be possibly released along with the mobile versions of Zynga Poker and Words With Friends by the end of March 2014.