Zynga hasn’t been releasing as many new titles in recent months, but things are about to pick up again, executives said during today’s conference call discussing the company’s first quarter earnings report. In fact, they said they’re launching a big new title later today — Draw Something 2.
Chief Operations Officer David Ko said that there’s been “a little bit of a pause in our title slate.” Behind the scenes, he said, the company has been reorganizing and reassessing its lineup, with a focus on four core genres (casual, casino, mid-core, and invest-and-express games), but we can “expect to see an uptick in our number of launches in the back half of the year” — though he didn’t offer a specific number.
The company’s revenue declined 18 percent year-over-year and bookings were down 30 percent; its outlook for the next quarter isn’t promising, either. One of the analysts on the conference call asked whether, as Zynga navigates its transition to mobile and launches new titles, we can expect the next quarter to be the “trough,” with bookings picking up again afterwards.
Chief Financial Officer Mark Vranesh responded that when it came to the second-quarter outlook, “We’re not presuming that aggregate bookings from new releases are going to offset declines from existing games. … That goes to DS2 as well.” As for whether things will pick up in the back half of the year, Vranesh said that’s what the company is hoping if its new launches go well, but he also cautioned that this year will be “bumpy.”
To that point, another analyst asked what Zynga can learn from its recent launches — particularly the fact that FarmVille 2 has succeeded while other attempts to turn games into franchises has not. One of the main lessons of FarmVille 2, according to CEO Mark Pincus, is that “when we combine our best brands with our best teams and their passions we see almost magical results.”
Ko added that while it’s impossible to know for certain which titles will turn into successful franchises, Zynga employees have been testing Draw Something 2 and Running With Friends internally, and they’re showing “some of the highest fun scores within the company.”