Just thought to drop some comments on Zynga Unleashed event in SF. I’m writing this shortly after the webcast ended and I didn’t read any of the reports just yet. Just going to touch on a few things.
To me it looks like Zynga’s biggest growth potential is the mobile publishing model they announced. Discovery and user acquisition is a known and painful problem, and it’s way bigger in the mobile space than on Facebook (where it’s mostly an issue of money). Having Zynga on your side can be a huge boost to a new game’s success.
I know most successful mobile developers claim they managed to grow virally without buying users, but Zynga’s reach and cross promotion abilities, with all their players on mobile, facebook and own site, has the potential to overshadow the success of current success stories. Just to point out that the number of users that will get your app to the top 10 won’t even blip on the radar of a mid-level facebook game.
Zynga also makes the right moves by trying to create a self-sufficient website, with its own “game center” and user graph. It’s still all based on Facebook, but it lays the foundation for independent games. According to what I read, that’s what concerns the investors the most, so it will be interesting to see if these steps will be enough to calm them.
As to the rest – Zynga’s own games?
Elite Slots – I was curious to see of the upcoming Facebook slots is going to look like the mobile Zynga Slots. It not. They did take the idea of stories and adventure per machine, but in a completely legitimate way, made a completely new concept out of it. At least according to the demo video (I didn’t play the game yet).
Still, I’m less worried for the developers in the slots genre. There are a lot of players, some are owned by the big gambling giants that consider the social space as a strategic investment. They’re not some small, poor, developers, and can match Zynga (resources wise) if they really want. Also, Zynga Bingo didn’t hurt Bingo Blitz so far, so Zynga doesn’t always take over every genre it enters.
The Ville – This looks like a complete clone of The Sims Social. It looks identical down to the UI of the avatar’s dressing room. Will need to play the game to validate that, but it does look like a complete clone.
Ruby Blast – Bejeweled meets Collapse. I liked that your friends can help by digging out a whole line. Still remains to be tested, but it looks very polished on the trailer.
ChefVille – This looks like Cafe World on steroids. As a person who played cafe world quite a bit, I’m very interesting to see how well this one will be, and it does look like they’ve added some nice interfaces. But really Zynga? RECYCLING Cafe World?? You better have some serious analysis to back this up. Otherwise, it does look a little desperate.
Farmville 2 – It’s Farmville! In 3D! When they lunched Mafia 2, it was essentially the same game but with a new graphic cover that made sense, as all games were already isometric. Farmville 2 is also a change in technology, this time 3D. The difference is that 3D games had yet to become mainstream on Facebook and it makes the whole game very interesting for this reason. Will this prove that 3D games will work well in a popular title? Will enough players have good enough computers? Interesting!