AFTER A BIG YEAR, ZYNGA IS READY TO EXPAND BEYOND MOBILE
On Wednesday, Zynga announced its acquisition of Echtra Games, a cross-platform game studio led by a team of developers responsible for top tier titles such as Diablo, Diablo II and the Torchlight franchise, among others. As part of the partnership, Echtra will develop a new RPG for cross-platform play in partnership with Zynga’s NaturalMotion studio.
When its fiscal year ended, Zynga, the mobile and social game developer behind such titles as Words with Friends and Zynga Poker, saw a 4 percent year-over-year increase in net revenue, the highest bump in the company’s history.
“It’s ridiculous growth in this market, so we’re really pleased with our overall performance from a revenue perspective,” Bernard Kim, Zynga’s president of publishing, tells VENN.
According to Kim, a key driver of Zynga’s TK growth was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Zynga adapted to a work from home environment very quickly, and was able to provide fun for our players across our entire network,” he says. “We provided entertainment, social connectivity through a game platform that’s generally safe and non-threatening. Non-gamers are spending more time in our medium and have made it part of their daily routine.”
Kim has been part of the Zynga team for five years and in that time he’s witnessed extraordinary growth, especially over the past year.
“When I first joined Zynga, we had this vision around growing our life services around a multi-year growth strategy, launching exciting new games and then acquiring companies that could be part of a single family,” Kim says. “We let them do their things, but hopefully grow faster together with shared synergies. And this past year was an example of that.”
In 2020, Zynga launched Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, a mobile puzzle game. The title went on to win best casual game for Google Play 2020, and also received the Apple App Store Editor’s Choice award. Words With Friends, a game that launched in 2009, also saw “the best revenue performance in its history.”
Zynga also acquired Peak, the makers of mobile titles Toy Blast and Toon Blast, and Rollic Games, the studio behind mobile titles such as High Heels and Blob Runner 3D, among others.
“The next stage really centers around continuing to line in great new live services and grow them,” says Kim. “We’re very inquisitive with regards to expanding our family through mergers and acquisitions. But the thing we’re able to talk a little bit more about publicly is our strategy around cross platform development.”
Kim is referring to the successful launch of Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells, as well as Puzzle Combat and Farmville 3, which are currently in soft launch. Later this year, Zynga will launch Star Wars Hunters, a competitive arena combat game, later in 2021.
“When it comes to our slate of products going forward, we’re taking a cross-platform view on it, being able to have intractability between mobile, but also laying on other platforms like PC or console,” says Kim.
As mobile gaming continues to grow, Zynga has no shortage of partners to work with as they make good on the mergers and acquisitions portion of their strategy. What makes an attractive potential partner? “We first look at games that we absolutely love,” says Kim. “Then we look at really deep culture matches, build a relationship, build trust, then incentivize teams together.”
While the pandemic may have helped Zynga’s fiscal growth, Kim isn’t concerned about maintaining momentum as vaccine rollouts begin across the country.
“One of the things that differentiates Zynga versus a lot of our competitors is connecting the world through games,” he says. “The fabric of Zynga titles is centered around connectivity. Engagement is really strong in our games, and when things go back to normalcy, that social connectivity through games is not going to go away.”
Photo courtesy of Zynga