Zynga Numbers Flounder Despite New Games

Zynga Numbers Flounder Despite New Games

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CastleVille is a hit but Zynga's overall user numbers continue to stay flat, which could be problematic for the company's planned IPO.

It only took CastleVille two weeks to rack up 17.4 million users, giving it the sixth-biggest audience on Facebook, and it's currently running neck-and-neck with Zynga's popular FarmVille with just over seven million daily active users. That's a win no matter how you look at it, but it may not be enough of a win to turn around Zynga's fortunes, as the boost in numbers it brought for November was largely offset by sliding interest in the company's other games.

Zynga put out five new games over the five months between June and October, yet the company's overall DAU numbers actually slid from 49.2 million to 46.9 million. "While DAUs have ticked up slightly over the last month, given the launch of Zynga's most important new title for the year, CastleVille, the modest increase in November has to be a disappointment," Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz said. "The lack of real DAU growth appears to be partially a function of general overall erosion in the DAU base for Zynga's older titles and partially an acceleration of user churn since the launch of CastleVille."

One of the biggest problems facing Zynga is that most of the interest in its new releases appears to be coming from people already playing its older games rather than new users, which limits the potential for real growth. Creutz also noted that interest in Zynga games appears to be peaking and then trailing off faster with each new release; Mafia Wars 2, which came out in October, hit its peak just eight days after launch, while DAU growth for CastleVille went from six million in the first week to 900,000 in the second.

Zynga's planned IPO is already looking a bit frayed thanks to concerns about its reputation and corporate culture and this certainly isn't going to help. From a practical perspective, it might be even worse; "corporate culture" is an ephemeral concept that can be remolded [or suppressed] as needed to keep the investors happy, but a business plan that's hit a wall and has nowhere to go but down is far more troublesome. "We think Zynga has yet to answer the question of how it intends to grow its business from this point forward, a key question in front of its attempt to launch an IPO," Creutz said.

Sources: GamesIndustry, Gamasutra

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Their only answer to "grow its business" I'm guessing is invest in more scams to offset lowering interest in games, because frankly the few people I know who did play Mafia Wars and whatnot, moved on to the next big thing instead of sticking with them (IE my sister, whose now addicted to the Sims facebook game).

Besides, I say let them flop about and suffocate on their own failed design philosophy. Consider it Karmic payback.

Looks like this pit pull has been spayed

Keep up the decline. That's what you get when you behave too cocky. Bigger gaming companies have failed.

Always nice to have a bit of good news.

with all the shady crap that company has done, I think I would care more if Activision started failing. At least they were honest will that the bull they pulled.

Makes sense, everyone I know who is big into the Zynga games (a LOT of people) has simply grown... bored with them, and don't play anymore, all their games seem to be very similar, at least at a glance, so maybe everyone is just getting bored

I really wanted to read this, but once I tried to connect "Zynga" and "new games" in one sentence, my brain shut down...

Andy Chalk:
One of the biggest problems facing Zynga is that most of the interest in its new releases appears to be coming from people already playing its older games rather than new users, which limits the potential for real growth.

Oh, wow. Keep reskinning the same game over and over again and then act surprised when you can only cannibalize your own userbase, which slowly dwindles as people go over to different games? Someone call the New York Times!

Considering how most of their games have been copy-pastes of previously tried and tested game models with more focus on reward schemes than any actual gameplay this shouldn't be the least bit suprising.

In short, it would appear that using the market tested 'Skinner box' method doesn't make up for some serious lapses in game design and a sense of disregard for your player-base.

EDIT: I thought about this in regard to how some of us complain about parts of the 'mainstream' games industry being rich in stagnation but I think there are some major differences between that and what's going on with Zynga here.

Some people like to target Call of Duty firstly for having most games simply be updates to the multiplayer (I still remember some people making claims based on the first trailer that MW3 would be a simple copy-paste of MW2 with some reskins) but to be fair they do change the games up significantly and refine the gameplay to make it feel distinguished from the last yet still familiar (honestly play CoD4 and MW3 side-by-side and I guarentee you that they won't feel or look identical, there clearly has been a lot of progress since then).

Even some of the cheap and shoddy Halo/CoD knock-offs you sometimes see in bargain bins aren't direct copies (most of them tend to try and add some token unique idea to them in an attempt to seperate themselves from the game they're based on) so there's still some evolution or change going on.

Compare this to the Facebook game market which has seen only very small and cosmetic changes to it over the numerous titles that have have no doubt cluttered your friend's collective wall posts (usually being the same game but with a different theme, for example: Mafia Wars becomes Vampire Wars, Zombie Wars, Modern Warfare, Car Wars and many, many others).

So the numbers here aren't floundering despite new games, they're floundering because there really aren't any new games at all.

they could start making fun games instead of skinner boxes and slightly more original games instead of copying. i don't see that happening. i look forward to to the death of the company. i am sure the the talented people who worked for zynga them will find a job somewhere.

I played heavily about 8 months or so ago...Mafia wars mostly

Initially it was fun, working out how to level best - short term, long term goals - working on 'the big game'

Then it become a spam fest, a new event every week sometimes 2 overlap

I needed to find 500 'friends' and all to get X new shiney....and TBH I couldn't be bothered it was stupid - I either let it suck me dry or tell it to go away...

So yeh of course no one new is joining - we all blocked all the spam from our walls and MOST FB users are either gamers or blockers now I'd guess...so unless they innovate they will bleed dry and the gamers have 2,000 friends who are gamers so get exposed to new games...and get bored with the zynga tried tested and now failing system.

But all these games are pretty much the same thing with different graphics. There is little appeal in playing them at the best of times.

What a surprise, a poor design philosophy and limiting your consumer base hurts sales.

I've noticed Facebooks redesign has meant that apps rarely appear on the wall anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole third-party economy is suffering a bit.

I can't remember the last time I was bothered by a Farmville request

I hope to see their users carry on decreasing... rapidly.

I guess you can say that they're watering down their own community and still trying to rip them off at every turn. Maybe if they invested more in making their existing games better instead of reskinning other games and marketing it as their own?

So, looks like people are finally catching onto their bullshit, huh?

Quicker than I expected, actually.

Formica Archonis:

Andy Chalk:
One of the biggest problems facing Zynga is that most of the interest in its new releases appears to be coming from people already playing its older games rather than new users, which limits the potential for real growth.

Oh, wow. Keep reskinning the same game over and over again and then act surprised when you can only cannibalize your own userbase, which slowly dwindles as people go over to different games? Someone call the New York Times!

:p why not? EA and Activision do it with CoD and BattleField and lets not even get started on EA sports ....

I have been playing the new game castleville for about 3 weeks It has one glitch after another in it. I am $240 into it and it has gone stagnant. I got through to the help with an email and they tole me to give alastar a cake and it would get the quests going again. Well 21000 coins and 41 crown later he has a cake but I have not quests. The game if full of problems take this game very slow.

 

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