Garriott: Zynga Exists because Blizzard, EA “Failed” to Step Into Social Gaming

Note: Sorry for the scrolling, but this image needed to be included in all its glory.

Richard “Lord British” Garriott is the guy who birthed the Ultima series, and subsequently 1997′s Ultima Online, what some consider the grandaddy of all MMORPGs. Game Front writer CJ Miozzi tells me Garriott coined the term “MMORPG.” CJ has a startlingly deep voice, but I trust him.

Garriott has worked at a bunch of places (EA, NCSoft), but these days he’s at Portalarium, a development company he founded in 2009 for the purpose of manufacturing “online social games, virtual worlds and related services and products.”

Anyway, he has some stuff to say about big(ger) companies and their inability to adapt to modern trends and stay hip, which sounds like a real thing that definitely happens. Here’s what he said about EA and Blizzard in an interview with IndustryGamers:

The only reason Zynga exists is because people like EA, people like Blizzard, failed to step in. And so each of these major upheavals allows new, major corporations to come in and fill that space, which I think is to the great detriment, and then leaves the big companies of the previous iteration actually trying to catch up. And so I think that the challenge for Blizzard, when you are that good, when you’re making that much money, when you’re that much on top of your game, in the current era, it’s actually fairly difficult to spend money towards things that seem to not be as profitable, that people don’t understand as well and that you don’t imagine could possibly beat how well you’re doing at the top of your game in the current era. And so that I think is a risk for anyone, including Blizzard, that they will elect not to tackle that one, because they don’t see that it’s important and relevant.

He sure sounds right about the “catching up” part. Let’s look at EA for example, who acquired PopCap earlier this summer, as well as Playfish back in 2009 in a series of clearly catch-uppy moves. It’s not going badly for EA, though–Sims Social is turning into a serious part of their digital business, with 38 million monthly active users. Sims Social is the second most popular Facebook game overall, second only to Zynga’s CityVille, with 54 million monthly active users.

Compare that to World of Warcraft‘s totally dwarfed 11 million registered users, and consider that WoW’s overall subscriber base is reportedly in decline this year, and you can see why classic game publishers would be interested in “catching up.”

But then also consider that Zynga’s Q2 profits dropped 95% in Q2, which is hard to even fathom. Basically, Zynga sold far fewer virtual scarves or whatever, and the numbers also point to a declining user base.

So who knows, Richard Garriott. All those moms on Facebook might all the sudden take up scrap-booking, and then where will Zynga be compared to Blizzard?

I jest–this is a complicated, interesting space in the gaming world and Garriott has a good point.

What do you guys think? Do you care about Facebook games AT ALL? If not, is there anything in the world that would make you care?

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5 Comments on Garriott: Zynga Exists because Blizzard, EA “Failed” to Step Into Social Gaming

CJ Miozzi

On November 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I remember sitting at the back of 300-student university classroom a few years ago, looking down at a sea of laptops with Facebook onscreen as the poor professor prattled on to deaf ears.

Why are Facebook games so popular?

Because when people are bored and don’t have access to a real gaming platform, they’ll settle for banality. Combine that with addictive personality types, and the hours fly by.


On November 2, 2011 at 3:19 am

Truth is people are ing pansies these days, cry on facebook and they cry about the world but don’t have the balls to stand up and do anything about it.

I’m sure that sea of 300 kids probably didn’t even pay for college otherwise they would take there education more serious. Spoiled little kids on mommy and daddies dime scraping by in life.


On November 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm

“Why are Facebook games so popular?

Because when people are bored and don’t have access to a real gaming platform, they’ll settle for banality. Combine that with addictive personality types, and the hours fly by.”

So true.


On December 10, 2011 at 6:22 am

You can not compare Wow with something like Cityvile. While Wow can have only 1/5 of the Cityville players, a WoW player must pay a suscription fee of at least 13$ a month; meanwhile, it is know that the monetary value of a CityVille player is about 0.3$ a month. The difference is HUGE. With 11.1 million users, Blizzard is making about 144.3 millions a month or 432.9 millions in each quarter. If you compare these number with the last Zynga revenue figures (306.8 millons in a quarter) you realize that WoW alone, with only 11.1 millions player, completely destroys all the Zynga games together (including the iPhone and Android ones).

The thing is that some people are interested in mantain the Zynga’s hype because they had access to cheap Zynga’s shares and want to raise its value the most they can to make A LOT of money, and it has ben pretty easy due to the popularity of its games.

Sorry for my bad english, it is not my mother tounge :-S

Charity Koshar

On January 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Does anyone know if all the writers are still on strike? Or have some given in to save their jobs?