Zynga is one of the biggest success stories of the modern Internet era. Launching social games that work on mobile platforms, and through social networking sites, it quickly found a great deal of success in a short amount of time.
Founded in April 2007, it was named Zynga after the American bulldog once owned by Mark Pincus, the CEO of the company. The bulldog also serves as the company’s logo. In July of 2007, shortly after the company’s founding, they released Zynga Poker on Facebook. Six months later, the company received $10 million in venture capital, and in July of 2008, the company received another $29 million in funding. They also launched YoVille, a large virtual world social network was launched.
In 2009, the company became the #1 Facebook app developer with 40 million active users. In June of that year, they launched Farmville, which quickly became the first game on Facebook to reach 10 million daily active users. In October, 20 million daily users were using the game. Farmville would go on to become the first stand-alone game.
In 2010, the company bought NewToy, which had developed Chess with Friends and Worlds With Friends. Also that year, the company’s game CityVille became its most popular game, with 61 million monthly active users. Since that time, the company has released several other games including Empires and Allies, Hidden Chronicles and more.
In 2013, the company began shutting down some of its games, and that same year, the company let go of 520 employees, 18 per cent of its workforce. In addition, the company closed offices in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Two weeks after laying off the staff, the company bought Spooky Cool Labs, a social gaming company. By July, the company had seen half of its user base drop from the previous year, causing the company to lose $400 million in value.
In 2014, the company reduced its workforce by another 15 per cent, bringing its total amount of employees down to 314 people.
There are several games offered through Zynga. Some of their most popular games are listed below:
- Zynga Poker: The first game launched by Zynga, it had 38 million players by 2011 and by 2014, there were 350 million players, with millions playing the game on a daily basis. In 2011, the company hosted PokerCon, a live poker tournament and today the game is available on mobile devices in up to 18 languages.
- Farmville: The most famous game from Zynga, this game was launched on Facebook in 2009, and quickly became the most popular game on Facebook. The game is operated through Flash, and is also available on mobile devices. The game is free to play but to progress, you need to spend Farm Cash or Farm Bucks, which can be bought with real-world cash. While the game was incredibly popular, it fell to the seventh most popular game in 2012, and by 2014 was the 44th most popular game. Since the release of Farmville, the company has also released Farmville 2 and Farmville: Country Escape. The game essentially involves growing crops virtually, through a variety of methods.
- Pioneer Trail: Launched in 2010, it is a free to play game, but it has the option of purchasing premium content. This game is very similar to Farmville, except instead of a farm, the player is a pioneer in the old west. Players collect from buildings, in order to complete goals that yield rewards. Animals can also be purchased, and trees can be planted.
- Words with Friends: Launched in 2009, this game is very similar to Scrabble, and can be found on all mobile devices, and is one of the top ranking games in the iOS app store, both with add versions and paid versions.
- Hidden Chronicles: Released in 2012, this is the first hidden object game from Zynga, where players earn points by finding hidden objects within scenes. The game also includes memory games.
In the company’s first-ever earnings report, with the sale of virtual goods growing by 59 per cent compared to the previous year. The company’s top three games, Farmville, Frontierville and CItyville, accounted for 57 per cent of online game revenue, with revenue totalling $329 million in 2012.
Four years after the company officially launched, it was approaching $1 billion in revenue. The incredible growth of the company was seen as a sign of the changing gaming landscape from only a few years ago.
In October 2012, the company had seen its stock price increase by 16 per cent, posting revenues of $317 million. In early 2013, the company’s CEO, Mark Pincus, announced that Farmville, the most popular game of Zynga, had reached $1 billion in total player bookings.