Zynga has a plan to fix itself that involves becoming a more mobile-focused company and putting more resources behind the “With Friends” brand, Shayndi Raice at the Wall Street Journal reports.It has no choice but to figure out mobile. Zynga’s mobile users are growing three times faster than its web users. Meanwhile, Zynga’s Facebook users have dropped 16% from last year to Q2 this year.
But creating more “with friends” branded games might not be the smartest strategy. Zynga has only ever had one real success in that category, Words with Friends. The rest of its attempts have gone bust.
Words With Friends currently has about 5.7 million daily active users (DAUs), according to AppData. But every social game it has launched since, Hanging with Friends, Scramble with Friends and Matching with Friends, have petered out.
“None of those games are or have been successful,” a source close to the company says. “Scramble DAU is down almost 50% over several months and Matching With Friends couldn’t hold on to #1 spot for more than two days.”
Zynga has tried replicating its smash hits before without much luck. Farmville, which first put the gaming company on the map, has led to a slew of other “ville” attempts, like Castleville, Cityville, YoVille, PetVille and FishVille. Most have not been able to attract the same user-base as Farmville.
“The ‘With Friends’ network is the same strategy as ville games,” says the source “Pick a franchise that has one hit and double down on the franchise as each game performs worse and worse.”
What should really have Zynga concerned, and has gone unsaid by the Journal, and others, is that Zynga has never built its own successful mobile game. It bought Words with Friends. It bought Draw Something, which was a successful mobile game.
Even if it doubles down on a semi-successful brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be able to build a successful mobile game.
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