Monday, August 13, 2012

Zynga Again

Zynga PokerA week ago Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO of the social game provider Zynga, indicated during a conference call with industry analysts that the company would likely be launching a real money online poker game in 2013.

I’ve mentioned here before my dislike of Facebook and how I don’t have an account. I did once upon a time, although I used it very little and ultimately deleted it once I became uncomfortable with all of the privacy-related issues. Yeah, I saw that story on the Forbes site last week about how some are wanting to suggest that being a “Facebook abstainer” makes a person “suspicious,” but in truth that seemed mostly just another dumb internet story-slash-bit-of-gossip that got passed up and down the virtual grapevine.

You know, like people often do on Facebook. (And on Twitter, which I do use.)

When I did have an account I tried out the Zynga poker game a few times. Like just about every online poker game not called PokerStars, I found it clunky and lacking in various ways, thus making hard to stay interested long enough to mess with it for long.

That said, I nonetheless remain interested in reading about Zynga and its plans. Am kind of fascinated, actually, with the whole idea of players currently spending real money to purchase poker chips with which to play on the site. And intrigued by what might happen when the real money games finally come to those non-U.S. countries (mostly in Europe) where Zynga can presently offer such.

Zynga stock has been down significantly since its initial public offering last year. A piece on Bloomberg last week about how Zynga’s shares had fallen during the second quarter of this year spelled out how three games -- Farmville, Cityville, and Zynga Poker -- made up 60% of the company’s revenue during that period, with poker representing 18% of it.

It’s been reported in various places that less than 3 percent of people playing Zynga games (including poker) ever spend any real money on them, and those that do apparently spend very little on average -- like just a couple of bucks a month. Of course, with 33.8 million active players playing 55 million hands of Zynga poker each day (according to Venture Beat), even those modest numbers end up producing some decent cabbage.

As reported in an article on Tech Crunch about the conference call, Pincus talked about how Zynga had various real money gambling games “in development” (i.e., not just poker), and that they “intend to release them into markets that are regulated and open, subject to our getting licensing.” He also noted how the U.S. is “obviously an attractive market” but also obviously not open for business at present.

When it comes to online poker, Zynga apparently is looking at possibly buying the Ongame Network -- or at least some of their online platforms -- to help get into the online poker game, as Nick Jones mentions in a report about Zynga for PokerFuse. See Jones’ article for a terrific (and comprehensive) overview of the whole history of Zynga thinking about getting into the business of offering real money games online.

Other Zynga casino-type games like Zynga Bingo and Zynga Slingo (which sort of mixes slots and bingo) are quite popular, too, and I would imagine versions of them are also being developed for this real money launch next year. No idea what the scene is currently when it comes to online casino sites about which one can learn more here, but I imagine Zynga jumping into it would have significant effect.

I remember many years ago writing a couple of posts here (Part 1 & Part 2) about online poker and how it had kind of an “outlaw” status in two different ways: (1) it’s gambling, which automatically represents something morally objectionable for some; and (2) it’s online, which also made it suspect for various reasons.

Feel like that latter issue -- which would include people having once had a lot of hesitation when it came to sending real money to and fro over the internet -- has diminished significantly since I wrote those posts. People seem ready to share a lot more than their credit card or bank info online these days.

What that attitudinal shift might mean for Zynga, who knows? Like I say, while I don’t play Zynga poker and am essentially on the sidelines when it comes to the company’s plans to move into real money games, I’m curious to see what comes of it all. And what effect Zynga’s next moves might have (if any) on online poker in its current state.

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Blogger Tawnie said...

What gets me mad is that you can drop money on virtual chips in iPhone games, such as splash poker, or zyngas games on multiple platforms. US congress objects to Poker stars because of the damn casino lobbyists and makes that illegal when really its no different except on the return. Hypocrites the lot of them.

8/14/2012 8:03 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

I hear you, Tawnie. Inconsistencies abound in the increasingly complicated world of social-slash-online gaming.

Meanwhile, it looks like Zynga is no longer in the market to purchase Ongame, as reported by PokerFuse today.

8/14/2012 11:40 AM  

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