EA: Zynga Collapse Doesn’t Mean Social Gaming Dead
In the wake of yesterday’s excessively brutal layoffs at Zynga – they eviscerated their Boston, Austin and Chicago offices, and shamelessly did so during the Apple event in hopes the news wouldn’t notice (a particularly clueless decision from a company whose business model depends on people sharing on social networks) – it’s tempting to declare that the era of social gaming is coming to an end. And why not? The disgusting overvaluation of Zynga has resulted in one of the fastest stock value declines in recent memory, the recent decision by Bigpoint to cease US operations, everything seems to point to the Social Gaming bubble having finally popped.
But not so fast! If you’re a company bent on making all games fit into the social platform whether or not it even makes sense, then you probably have a vested interest in the idea that social gaming will in fact prevail. Enter EA, who famously has revealed that they don’t want to make games that don’t have multiplayer, to the point that they’re actually releasing a game from a series in which the single player experience is key to the fun and removing it entirely. They clearly see social gaming as the future (we can Discuss theiR Motives another time,) so it makes sense they’re seeing the Zynga shrink in a different light than, well, everyone else.
Speaking to CVG, EA’s Peter Moore expressed the company position that the lamentations are overblown. “We have watched how social gaming really caught everyone’s imagination and it was the lead story for the industry for a while, and it may have got over-hyped,” he said. However, “expectations may have ran ahead of what was realistic. But on the downside, people are exaggerating the decline. I think the naysayers and the doom mongers are over-exaggerating. We see a strong future for social gaming. It’s going to evolve, it’s on platforms that are clearly moving towards mobile very quickly.”
I admit I’m skeptical. EA, and fellow industry bigwigs, seem to long for a day when they don’t need to develop any single player content, when every aspect of their business is monetized to the point of absurdity. Of course, they could also just LOVE social gaming features and desperately want them to thrive. Either way, I think that platform has limits; it will most definitely not become the industry standard.