As you may have heard, Zynga is not doing so well. The company, famous for Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has been suffering as its perhaps fickle user base has moved from harvesting peas and broadcasting
annoying wall posts about it to flinging angry birds, slicing up fruit, and playing any number of other games their phones. It's reputation has also suffered from accusations of atrocious labour practices, allegations that it repackages existing games, and an unsavoury benefits claw-back scandal prior to its initial public stock offering. And since that offering, its stock prices have shed 75% of their value. This past week the embattled company fired 100 employees, with plans to shut down as many as three offices in Japan, the US, and the UK. It also plans to terminate thirteen of its existing games and strictly rein in its budget. All this has grown consternation that the Zyngapocalypse could herald another dot-com bubble bursting. After all, it was less than a year ago that the company was worth over 7 billion USD, and Facebook, where Zynga found its greatest success, has seen its own very public stock meltdown this year.
Others, like EA's Peter Moore, lament the job losses but see this as contraction of an overheated market:
"I think it just got a little overhyped. And now the demise is being overhyped the opposite way. I still think there's a strong place for social gaming. I think a lot of social gaming is moving mobile. We feel well positioned to take advantage of that. And people shouldn't read too much into whatever is going on with Zynga."
Of course, this comes from the same EA that is suing Zynga for copyright infringement, alleging it stole core elements of The Sims Social when it put together The Ville. Zynga will no doubt have more bad press over the coming months as it fights the charges.
A less-hyped part of this story is that Zynga is turning to online gambling in the search for more stable future revenues. While this isn't legal in all parts, reports also have it that Zynga has been actively lobbying for changes to online gambling laws in the US. But Zynga will enter its first foray into the market by partnering with UK company bwin.party, meaning that subjects of the Realm can look forward to Zynga poker and FarmVille-branded slots (I sh-t you not; it says so in the Fast Company article: FarmVille-branded slots) as Zynga attempts to staunch the bleeding it has been experiencing over the past months.