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