Is Zynga Doomed?

mark pincus

Photo: Flickr / Fortune Live Media

As Zynga’s stock tanks, executives are leaving left and right. Are they running because Zynga is screwed, or are they leaving for another reason?

We looked at app usage data to figure it out. 

Zynga's daily players are at 50 million, down from 70 million just a few months ago.

Meanwhile, the stock has absolutely cratered.

Zynga has seen a lot of talent drain. Most of those leaving have at least one thing in common...

They were all part of Zynga's last era, when it was a dominant force thanks to its Facebook games.

Zynga's Facebook games aren't doing as well as they used to. CityVille, once its second-most popular game, is at 3 million daily players, down from from a high of tens of millions of players.

Farmville has also fallen. It was once Zynga's top game.

...which hit nowhere near the peak of FarmVille or CityVille before stalling and tapering off. (This chart is as of a few months ago, but still shows the point pretty clearly.)

You can see that really obviously in the most recent game Zynga launched, ChefVille. But, as you can see, it quickly starts to taper off...

After that pop wears off, the usage declines, and tends to hover around 3 million, as you can see in this chart of The Ville

Despite the trend, Zynga is still investing in Facebook games. It just launched Farmville 2...

Which is off to a quick start, even before it gets the Facebook bump.

Historically Zynga's sequels haven't done well, as you can see in this chart of Mafia Wars 2.

For some context, you can see that an app like Instagram is STILL growing, even years after it launched.

As is Spotify. These apps have two things in common: they are mobile, and they are useful.

Zynga actually has some apps like this. Words With Friends, a mobile version of Scrabble, is years old and it's still one of Zynga's most popular apps.

Texas Hold 'Em was one of Zynga's first games, and it has more users than just about all of Zynga's other apps thanks to having a big mobile presence.

Zynga has games that it can easily turn into mobile games, such as Bubble Safari.

So, in short, Zynga has to become a mobile company.

Zynga is ready to make this transition. The people that have left the company were Facebook gaming specialists. The people staying at the company, like chief mobile star David Ko, are experts in mobile games.

They need to invent new and exciting titles, as well as convert some of the older games. If they fail to deliver strong mobile games, then Zynga probably is screwed.

With mobile taking over, there's a new big competitor to Google and Apple...

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