| SAN FRANCISCO, March 3
SAN FRANCISCO, March 3 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.