Zynga: Could It Reinvent Itself?
Zyngapocalypse Now (And What Comes Next?)
Both inside and outside the walls of Facebook, the story of social games has become one of dead geese and golden eggs, flatlined growth, formulaic games and shady practises..... the main problem in social games was that the product was almost identical across all providers, and that social game makers had trapped themselves into thinking that it had to be so. I said that this had led them to treat the market as akin to fast food ..... I thought Zynga would miss the opportunity to spend incoming investment on building better products and instead inflate the kind of product and business model that they already had. .... without constant and heavy promotion, social games tend to fade away pretty quickly ...... the business model of social games is hollow because the value it provides is poor. ..... The obsession with tactics is directly related to the obsession with metrics, and this leads to a culture which devalues original thinking. Social games have the exact same problem as network television in that respect, in that there are far too many quants running the show, demanding numeric proof for decisions. Quants understand little to nothing of why players play games ..... Timidity rules. .... The second generation needs to be thinking like HBO, not network television. It takes research and prototyping time to develop good game dynamics, but more than that it takes the right technology, talent and faith. This last quality is perhaps most frightening because it pretty much means letting the inmates run the asylum. ...... You may wish that game design was a process, but it’s an art. ..... why should the player play your social game as opposed to a downloaded PC game, a DS game, an Xbox game and so on .... ........... Social games do not bring people together. Most players in fact play them in a largely single-player fashion, making contact purely for reasons of necessity like trading, earning Energy and so on. ..... Players play to achieve, to do, to build, to create, to explore, to destroy and to win. ... What games don’t do particularly well is the whole “living a virtual life” thing. ....... (this is why poker is still Zynga’s most solid game), it’s all about the self-propelled, self-organised and self-successful player. “Social” simply helps that happen faster, in what we designers are increasingly calling “parallel design”. ...... most players’ game graphs in their Facebook games are either empty or full of the orphaned accounts of those who stopped playing. ..... G2 social games will probably have very different delivery to G1, like the difference between “software” and “app”. ..... If Yahoo was “Search, Generation One” then Google was “Search, Generation Two”. .... A similar shift is what will make “Social Games, Generation Two” realI think the guy just called Zynga the Yahoo of social games, as in what Yahoo was for search. That is not flattering. Zynga is taking a beating in the public market, sure. But maybe it can reinvent itself.