Zynga’s downward spiral continues as it shutters four more games

zynga facebook

Here’s a plum fact about the video game industry: in 2010, Zynga was valued above Electronic Arts. So successful were the likes of FarmVille and Mafia Wars, so smitten with the ease of spending on the booming Facebook social network were players, that the little, privately owned game company was worth more (according to industry analysts) than the company making Madden NFL and FIFA Soccer. By the time Zynga made its initial public offering at the tail end of 2011, investors anticipated a worthwhile moneymaking opportunity. What’s that they say about the stars that burn brightest? Zynga is shutting down a handful of once-successful social games after reporting yet another year of tepid earnings.

Revenue fell from $329 million during the first quarter of 2012 to just under $264 million in 2013, with net income of just above $4 million. For those not following the game maker’s stumbles on the NASDAQ stock exchange, those numbers mean that Zynga beat expectations but by a hair, and investors are not happy. Shares plummeted 11-percent after the latest earnings call and haven’t yet recovered. Zynga said that the coming year will be one of transition; the plan is to introduce new games to pick things back up, but the company’s primary means of recovery right now seems to be closing down as many games as possible.

Zynga COO David Ko confirmed during Wednesday’s earnings call that it was closing down four social games that were at one time pillars of the company’s business. These include Facebook titles The Ville, Empires & Allies, and Dream Zoo as well as the company’s foray into China, Zynga City, on the Tencent gaming platform. It also confirmed the cancellation of two unreleased games that were meant to be a big part of its future. CEO Mark Pincus said those games would have brought “better short-term performance” but they wouldn’t have provided long term stability.

The biggest cancellation is The Ville, the game around which allegations of plagiarism that have dogged the company coalesced. It was The Ville’s perceived similarity to Electronic Arts’ The Sims Social that finally led to the filing of a lawsuit that many saw as a long time coming. As Maxis boss Lucy Bradshaw wrote at the time, “This is a case of principle. Maxis isn’t the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it.”

Ironically, neither The Ville nor The Sims Social will still be in operation come June, as Electronic Arts is bowing out of Facebook gaming. This doesn’t mean that gamers have nowhere to turn on Mark Zuckerberg’s social network, however. The market is simply proving that Zynga’s approach to empire-building was flawed at the outset. These new cancellations are just the latest. Fourteen other Zynga games have been shut down since December 2012; eleven in that month alone and then three more in February.


Take-Two Interactive takes down another ‘GTA Online’ modder, seeks $150K

Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games have filed a lawsuit against the GTA Online modder behind the software named Elusive. The publisher is continuing its crackdown against GTA Online mods.
Movies & TV

Ice meets fire in HBO's latest 'Game of Thrones' season 8 teaser

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

‘Fortnite’ streamer reportedly arrested after abusing wife while on Twitch

An Australian Fortnite streamer who goes by the name MrDeathMoth abused his pregnant wife while he was live on Twitch. An anonymous cybersecurity expert took matters into his own hands, resulting in the arrest of the streamer.

Miss Black Friday but still need an Xbox? Walmart has you covered

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but you can still save some cash on a new Xbox One bundle at Walmart. Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X are on sale now.

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!

The Epic Games store is already luring indie studios away from Steam

The Epic Games Store is less than a week old, but it's already making waves among indie studios. Multiple studios have announced that their games will be timed exclusives on the Epic Games Store, with one studio forgoing Steam completely.

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.

Bundle up for the huge ‘Monster Hunter: World’ expansion coming in 2019

Monster Hunter: World is getting a major expansion in fall 2019 called Iceborne. The expansion will be similar in scope as the Ultimate versions of previous Monster Hunter games, featuring new quests, monsters, weapons, and armor.

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can browse profiles, trophies, and other content directly on your mobile device.

Play ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ the best way with a Switch GameCube controller

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the recent launch of the new 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,' Nintendo has brought back the iconic GameCube controller.

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.