Zynga Makes First Mobile Gaming Move Since IPO
Online game developer Zynga Inc. is releasing a new mobile word game called “Scramble with Friends” on Thursday to expand its user base beyond Facebook and catch up with rivals in the handheld market. Zynga shares have fallen below their initial public offering price since the company began trading on the Nasdaq Dec. 16. On Thursday, the shares were trading at $9.04, about 10 percent below the IPO price.
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While Zynga was one of the earliest game makers on the Facebook platform, it lacks that first mover advantage on mobile, where companies such as Walt Disney Co. and Electronic Arts Inc. have released successful games.
To try to replicate its popularity on Facebook, Zynga is trying to create a network of mobile games under one brand where users can play the same friends across all titles.
In the new game released on Thursday, players race against the clock to unscramble words. “Scramble with Friends” is made for players of “Words with Friends” and “Hanging with Friends,” two other Zynga word games.
“The most difficult thing on mobile is creating a network effect because mobile doesn’t have the inherent built-in social network that a platform like Facebook does,” said Paul Bettner, vice president and general manager of Zynga With Friends, the Texas-based studio formerly known as Newtoy, which Zynga acquired in 2010.
“A network of existing players — that’s what we’re trying to build with the brand. If players are enjoying ‘Words with Friends,’ they already have a network of friends they’ve built up,” he said.
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