By James Brightman
While some of Zynga’s titles, like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, are already available on mobile, the social gaming juggernaut hasn’t seen the same kind of success on mobile platforms as it has on Facebook where it’s far and away the dominant player. Over time, however, Zynga is looking to become a force to be reckoned with in mobile, along with big players like EA Mobile, ngmoco, Gameloft and others. Zynga chief game designer Brian Reynolds talked with IndustryGamersabout his company’s mobile ambitions.
“[Mobile] is something that we actively care about, think about. It’s the major place where we think the future is,” Reynolds told us.
So what has prevented Zynga from dominating the mobile scene? Reynolds says it’s due to the friction currently present within social networking through phones. “The reason that Zynga isn’t ginormous on mobile yet is because the friction of social networking is still high on mobile. It’s ironic because when you think about your phone, it should be an inherently social device. It’s got your contacts. You can text. You e-mail people. You talk to them. It’s a hub; it’s a social hub. And people use it as a social hub but it’s missing some of the critical wiring that does the magic that Facebook does,” he explained.
“What Facebook is doing very efficiently is letting you communicate with your more distant friends. Sometimes it’s also a way to show pictures to mum, but I would’ve called mum anyway or e-mailed the pictures, right? At a certain point – and maybe it even made it faster – I can post pictures that all my relatives can see instead of e-mailing them one at a time and forgetting who. And then there’s the people at the lower end of the social, the more attenuated distant relationships – people from college or high school, people that I don’t keep in touch with as well, that I might not keep in touch with at all if not for Facebook. What I found when Facebook exploded a few years ago, suddenly people that I hadn’t kept in touch with at all for decades I was back in touch with.”
For Reynolds and Zynga, the mobile space needs to become more of a frictionless experience. That’s when Zynga expects to really seize the mobile opportunity. “So when mobile gets to the point where I can eliminate all that friction – so I can broadcast something to my friends, for example – [that’s when we’ll dive in]. Social games are about expressing myself in front of my friends and part of the value of investing in the play is the fact that I know my friends are going to see my farm and I’m going to help them and all my friends are going to be there. Right now there’s a lot of extra friction because it’s not just auto-wired in – which is the way the web used to be, before Facebook,” he continued.
We asked Reynolds if that means that Zynga needs to create the solution to address the friction problem, or if Zynga’s waiting for the network problem to be fixed on mobile before it can really go after the market. The bottom line is Zynga’s looking into multiple avenues. “We’re thinking very carefully about it and we are working with appropriate partners; there are people that are making platforms or have platforms and want to make it more social. We work with them… Or they have social platforms and they want to make them more mobile, whatever direction they want to go,” Reynolds said.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to solve a problem for a massive company like Zynga is through acquisition. Zynga’s certainly not been afraid to open up its war chest to acquire developers. In fact, it acquired mobile studio Newtoy last December. Should we expect more mobile acquisitions? “Well, maybe, you never know,” answered Reynolds.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.