back to article Zynga CEO resigns – again – after terrible results

The CEO of mobile games company Zynga, Mark Pincus, has resigned – a second time – following bad results. The decision to replace Pincus with a veteran games industry exec is Groundhog Day for the troubled company after it did exactly the same thing in 2013. Back then, Pincus was replaced with former Electronic Arts exec Don …

  1. Gannettt

    Companies like Zynga are parasites, the game is secondary to the money-making. I used to love Draw Something until one day the Zynga logo appeared all over it. If it weren't for the drones doing the bread-and-butter stuff there, I would say "rot in Hell, Zynga!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Californian ideology is finished. "Social" is the cancer that's killing silicon valley.

  2. El_Fev

    The problem is simple..

    They ran out of people to copy ideas off and steal their players!

  3. goldcd

    Not going to solve the problem

    But then, I'm not sure anything else would. As the article mentions, there's been a continuous cycle of the the free to play devs rising to the top on one or two games, before crashing back down.

    I guess the current leader is Supercell bringing in eye-watering sums of money and with a quite mind boggling valuation attached to them - but they like the others before them, will crash back down.

    I think bluntly the problem is that none of them do anything special that can't be copied.

    They might be really really good at what they do - but with thousands of imitators in the wings, one will better them.

    Strange change seems to be the reliance on advertising.

    First noticed this when I heard the Candy Crush music coming out of my TV.

    That's now moved onto Arnie hawking a game everywhere I look (Mobile Strike I found after googling) - I've seen the adverts, but I've not got a clue about the game (apart from the presumption is a new and shiney reinvention of what went before).

    My personal feeling is that this will all be "looked back at with interest" as a weird bubble with a few winners. Hopefully it'll pop and we'll get back to stuff like Minecraft. Weird little indie game, furiously supported by players and devs, that naturally gained market-share by word of mouth.

    The glaringly obvious problem with the pay-to-play games is that something better will come along, and the only thing left that makes you 'sticky' is the amount of cash that people have used to buy in.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Not going to solve the problem

      These things come in waves and each time there seems to be a organisation that was in the right place at the right time with the right product to ride the wave. Then it crashes on the beach and the next wave follows.

      So, that farm thing, angry birds, candy crush all ought to really be thinking about something else for the longer term, because trying to catch the current flavour of the month game wave seems to be more like playing the lottery.

  4. Boothy

    10 new titles!

    Quote: "we are now poised to launch 10 new titles this year.

    This smacks of pile it high, sell it cheap.

    It also means that teams and people will likely be being spread around too thin, unable to spend enough time on a specific game, before they need to move onto the next, affecting things like quality, productivity etc.

    They'd be better of focusing on just 2 tiles.

    Where practical, create two internal teams, one per game, and set up some friendly rivalry between them. Maybe offer a bonus based on how popular the game is 1 month after launch.

    Competition, especially with a carrot (bonus etc), rather than a stick (your sacked if you loose), drives people.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: people will likely be being spread around too thin,

      Probably not as much as you think.

      Back when I was on Facebook, it was mostly to play games and Zynga constituted most of them. They probably have two underlying engines with a bunch of skins. So on the purely functional level, Farmville played pretty much like their Cafe game and CityVille probably used the same engine but left out a lot of the walking around. MafiaWars was an obviously different engine, and a much simpler one. So all you need to do is maintain the current engines and update skins. I think the biggest problem they have in attracting players is they haven't paid attention to the game engines and they've gone to shit (as I detail below). But the more fundamental problem they have is that they DO need to make money, and most people won't part with a few bucks/quid a month to do so. I had actually finally gotten myself sufficiently financially stable that I was starting to pay them that money when their engines went to hell. So I quit. They might be able to get me back if they fixed their game engines, but there's zero chance of that happening. And yes, since I check in whenever I visit my mother, I will know if they fix the game engine.

  5. Anonymous Blowhard

    I hate to say it, but all the examples seem to indicate that none of the companies that create these ground-breaking games are able to come up with an equally successful successor.

    So the lesson has to be for investors to only value them based on what they've got, and what it will earn based on that. Investing at inflated values based on not-going-to-happen future profits is pissing away investors' money. And don't think that's a "victimless crime", remember that the money has to come from somewhere; if you look closely you might find that a portion of your pension-pot is being pissed away...

  6. Tom 13

    Something to do with a miserable lack of creativity?

    Worse: a miserable lack of playability.

    Yes, Facebook killing the notification system hurt them, mostly because they didn't adapt to the new environment. So the "Get 3 Friends to help you expand your storage shed" task from when I played it four years ago is still there and now IMPOSSIBLE to complete. But worse is they haven't been paying attention to the way the cruft they've added to the game makes things entirely within the game difficult to accomplish. I went home to visit my mother last weekend and she still plays it (retired with little better to do, I figure it at least keeps here a little more active than sleeping on the couch with the tv on) so I tried to help her out some. Three of the most basic tasks in the game are plowing your plot of land, sowing seeds, and harvesting the grown crops. While you can us farm machines to get blocks of squares, I fell into the habit of doing each plot with a click, especially on quick growing crops. Because of jitter with the position of the mouse do to other animations on screen, I usually had to close the browser about half way through and start again. Using the machines didn't really improve the process. The jitter just wouldn't go away.

    I'm not saying the lack of creativity is helping, it's just that with such poor execution on basics if they actually had anyone with any creativity the talent would be wasted.

  7. CSCLF
    FAIL

    Zynga issues

    A lot of the issue with Zynga is that they also had script issues in their popular games. Instead of repairing, they just deleted the popular games, angering their players. Here is the prime example: Cafe World, with monthly paying players and many other players paying to reach their goals which was played around the world by millions of people, was completely deleted and that was the last straw for many people who played Zynga games, and then they boycotted all the rest of the Zynga games. Zynga had a chance to sell the game intact to another company and decided, no, let's just junk the game even though there are millions of daily players.

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