We all know that mobile and gaming is BIG big big. But it seems that the big boys have taken a while to realize the power of mobile. Zynga, one of the biggest in the game, says it now counts 72 million mobile users out of a total of 298 million monthly average users.
Maybe mobile gaming really is the way forward? So the company also said it plans to bring its new FarmVille 2 game to the mobile realm this year.
Interestingly, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said the company is working on “creating a network” in mobile, one that would allow friends to more easily connect, even if one friend doesn’t yet have a particular app installed on their phone. He said the network will be similar to the network the company offers on the Web and will create a better distribution channel that will more efficiently connect players. “We think that will be a real game changer for us,” he said, explaining that a network in mobile will help grow Zynga’s user numbers and encourage those users to stick around.
In other mobile statistics, Zynga said its mobile bookings increased to 21 percent in the quarter, from 8 percent a year ago. The company said its most popular mobile game remains Words with Friends, which Zynga said grew 13 percent year over year in the quarter. Zynga said the number of its mobile daily active users and monthly active users declined year over year due to fading interest in Draw Something, a game Zynga acquired last year that quickly fell out of favor among users.
The announcements were part of the release of the company’s fourth quarter results, which showed generally improving financial trends at the game maker. Zynga reported a net loss for the fourth quarter of $48.6 million, up from the $435 million net loss it posted in the fourth quarter of 2011. The results were better than analysts had expected, according to the Wall Street Journal, which sent Zynga’s shares up slightly in after-hours trading immediately following the release of the company’s fourth quarter results.
Zynga’s outlook for the first quarter of 2013–between $255 million and $265 million in revenue and a net loss of between $32 million and $12 million–was also better than expected.
“2013 will be a pivotal transition year, and we are focused on achieving three strategic objectives: growing our franchises on mobile and Web, expanding our network and maintaining profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis,” said David Ko, Zynga’s chief operations officer. “Zynga already has the largest social gaming audience and remains the best positioned company to lead in building the future of social gaming.”
Ko also said Zynga plans to “double down” on successful games, which will likely mean the company will release fewer games during 2013. And Ko hinted that Zynga could eventually bring what he called “real money gaming” to the United States. Ko said Zynga is making some initial filings on the topic with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Zynga last year inked a deal with bwin.party to bring casino gaming, with real money, to the United Kingdom.
The results are noteworthy considering Zynga’s troubles last year. The company’s revenues stalled, partly due to changes at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which forced the company to conduct a round of layoffs and other cost-cutting measures. And Zynga suffered from a number of high-profile executive departures. Zynga has promised to improve its business, largely by focusing more carefully on the mobile gaming side of its business.
Indeed, in an interview with the New York Times following the release of its fourth quarter earnings, Zynga’s Pincus said: “Do I wish that we would have gone all-in on mobile and made a bigger commitment to it earlier? Yes.”