Zynga plans March soft launch for 3 key titles in mobile revamp

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Mar 3, 2014 9:13am EST

The corporate logo of Zynga Inc, the social network game development company, is shown at its headquarters in San Francisco, California April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The corporate logo of Zynga Inc, the social network game development company, is shown at its headquarters in San Francisco, California April 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Zynga Inc said on Monday it will kick off a soft launch of its "FarmVille 2: Country Escape" game and two other updated core titles before the end of March - critical first steps as it seeks to remake itself as a mobile gaming company.

The games, which include "Zynga Poker" and "Words With Friends" will roll out on iOS and Android phones and tablets in select undisclosed markets before officially launching by the end of June.

The steps are part of a major revamp led by new Chief Executive Don Mattrick that has also seen the company cut jobs and acquire mobile game developer NaturalMotion, the maker of "Clumsy Ninja", in January for $527 million.

"Did the company miss a beat with the transition to mobile? Absolutely. Are we fixing that? Yes, we are," Mattrick said in an interview on Friday.

Shares in Zynga have risen 65 percent since July 1 when the company announced that Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft Corp's Xbox business, would replace co-founder Mark Pincus as its chief executive.

Zynga's old business model, which relied heavily on selling virtual goods to gamers on Facebook Inc's platform, began to disintegrate in 2012 as users abandoned Facebook games and moved to playing on mobile devices.

Mattrick said the company now aspires to be "the leading, at scale content company in the free-to-play space".

Zynga, which has seen bookings decline for four consecutive quarters, forecast 2014 bookings in a range of $760 million to $810 million in January, representing growth of up to 13 percent. Analysts have said its forecast is a promising sign but warn the company is yet to prove it can dominate the crowded mobile game market.

"FarmVille 2: Country Escape" builds on the motif of the franchise's second installment "FarmVille 2." New elements include a virtual goods exchange where players can trade produce and animals and a chat portal within the game.

Users will also be able to play offline, unlike similar farming games like "Hay Day" by Finnish game developer Supercell that quickly moved into the mobile gaming market.

The new versions of its "Zynga Poker" title and puzzler "Words With Friends" have been reworked with fresh design elements and features based on user feedback.

NaturalMotion is expected to launch new titles but the company is yet to announce a release window.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Comments (5)
JJGGA wrote:
Check out the demos for the games… they┬┤re kind of “OK”, don{t think they’ll be such great hits like FV and the poker game… http://tinyurl.com/ZyngaDemo03

Mar 03, 2014 1:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BlondiPier wrote:
Why did Don Mattrick correct the speaker that introduced him at the Morgan Stanley Conference today that Pincus will no longer be Chairman? “quote” “I just have to correct one thing. Mr Pincus, I haven’t given him the news about the Chairman transfer, so I’m just sticking with CEO”. Is Pincus totally out and Mattrick in? More to this story than meets the eye…

Mar 03, 2014 5:54pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BykaChic wrote:
This statement is a flat out lie NOT true! We did not ABANDON facebook games! Worst customer support and Zynga not caring and ignoring paying players concerns is the TRUTH. I guarantee myself and thousands of others will never invest nor play another Zynga game again.

Zynga’s old business model, which relied heavily on selling virtual goods to gamers on Facebook Inc’s platform, began to disintegrate in 2012 as users abandoned Facebook games and moved to playing on mobile devices.

Mar 03, 2014 10:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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