Heads are starting to roll as Zynga’s 2012 woes mount up. The troubled social game maker behind FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and many other Facebook time sinks has had a rough couple of weeks and people at the company are unsurprisingly paying the price. Chief operating officer John Schappert tendered his resignation from the company on Wednesday.
Forbes received word from outspoken Zynga CEO Mark Pincus confirmed that Schappert stepped down as COO this week. “We can confirm that John Schappert has left Zynga and its Board of Directors effective immediately,” said Pincus via email, “John has made significant contributions to the games industry throughout his career and we appreciate all that he has done for Zynga. John leaves as a friend of the company and we wish him all the best.”
The major upheaval at Zynga kicked off in July. Schappert also stepped down as overseer of game development while head of mobile David Ko and head of game development Steve Chiang took over his duties. This came after Zynga reported a net loss of $23 million during the second quarter of the year and its stock tanked 38 percent.
As recently as Jul. 27, Schappert was talking up Zynga’s future prospects. In an interview detailed by All Things Digital, the former executive said that he had high hoped for Zynga’s plans to enter the real-money poker business, as well as its plans to further expand into mobile gaming. “Going forward, the emphasis in mobile is on creating games in higher monetizing genres, like Ville-style games. Casino monetizes well, and you see us doing slots on mobile, but there will also be more Ville-style games coming to mobile… We do know that Ville-style works well on Web and mobile, and are actively developing Ville-style games on mobile.”
His emphasis on Ville-style games and not The Ville itself was pointed in light of events the following week. Compounding the company’s problems, Electronic Arts filed a lawsuit against Zynga claiming that The Ville is an “unmistake copy” of its game The Sims Social. Zynga fired back defending its game, but the company has been under fire for copying other game companies products in the past and some thing EA’s lawsuit might force Zynga to change its ways.
Schappert’s departure from Zynga signals that the corporate shifts at the company in July weren’t just cosmetic. Zynga is trying to change fast, but it’s difficult to say if it will be able to transform into a company as profitable as one built on imitating success.
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