Challenges facing Zynga

Another good post that flew by my Google Reader feed was this analysis of the potential challenges facing Zynga, which just got $180 million in recent investment.

I fall into that weird age range where I wasn’t in college when Facebook became popular and I’m not a woman in my mid-to-late 30’s using it to catch up with folks. I don’t mean to be stereotypical here, but the number of women that I know on Facebook using it to arrange playdates and putting up pictures of their kids has skyrocketed in the past few years. Somehow, I’m in the dead zone for Facebook, as are several other of my friends.

Working as a middleware provider to box game developers, it amazes me how much money Zynga has made on Farmville. Actually, amazes is not the right word. Probably more astonishes and horrifies are better. I think the author above does a good job of breaking down the issues for games of this type and should give a little hope to all of the game developers out there that have recently been part of the swath of layoffs that have affected our industry. Just because games like Farmville are hot now doesn’t mean that it will last.


~ by shaunkime on December 22, 2009.

One Response to “Challenges facing Zynga”

  1. Good read, but I feel like there are two problems with his thinking:

    – He emphasizes boredom and the end of Atari, but more than 15 years after she first played it, my wife can still spend time – lots of time – on Tetris. I don’t believe Tetris is a magic game concept, either; there are lots of other standard stock casual games that seem to have the same kind of resonance.

    – Even more, he emphasizes lack of quality. I’m not entirely sure what he means; complexity of gameplay != quality. Having heard a couple of Zynga peole talk at conferences, I expect their intense focus on metrics gives them a path to iterate towards depth and quality, and with the breadth of their portfolio they’re trying to figure out how to do that in one place and replicate the expertise across the company. (And they’re probably hampered a bit by their explosive hiring, but they’re also aware of that.)

    I could easily see these companies growing more towards something like an adult version of Webkinz in how they tie together their stable of games and come up with another layer of out-of-game rewards for in-game griding; Metaplace would have been an interesting host for that, but it’s closing.

    Finally, I think he takes a very hardcore gamer’s view of what’s sexy and asserts that it appeals to everyboy. This doesn’t hold true with real sex appeal; why would it hold true in metaphor?

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