January 1, 2013
Zynga Pulls Plug On 11 Social Media Games
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
As 2013 begins, life in the 'Ville isn't so good. Social game publisher Zynga is implementing its cost-reduction plan, announced back in late October, and in the process shutting down 11 of its underperforming games.
Three 'Ville games are part of the 11 games that were shut down in December. The full list includes PetVille, Mafia Wars 2, FishVille, Vampire Wars, Treasre Isle, Indiana Jones Adventure World, Mafia Wars Shakedown, Forestville, Montopia, Mojitomo and Word Scramble Challenge. Three games were shut down on December 5, another three by the end of the month, and a few lost some key support.
One game, Indiana Jones Adventure World, is closed to new players and will shut down on January 14. Mafia Wars Shakedown, Forestville, Mojitomo and Word Scramble Challenge were all pulled from app stores, however players who already have the app installed may still be able to play. If those games are still playable, it is likely that Zynga will shut down access to the games at a later date.
Players looking for the shuttered games were greeted with a message that the game is no longer available and redirected to a "whole new selection of free-to-play games" in the Zynga catalog.
The shutdown of 11 games follows cost-reduction efforts that were discussed internally at Zynga, and posted on the company blog back in October. At that time, Zynga announced it would sunset 13 older games and laid off a portion of its workforce, including the closure of the Zynga Boston studio, and said it might close the Zynga Japan and UK studios.
Players of the 11 games may not see the move to shutter favorite titles as such a customer-friendly move on Zynga's part. The company´s post about the closure of PetVille on its Facebook page garnered over 1,600 responses. Many players have spent money on in-game purchases of goods and actions, and feel that the investment is now lost.
In the Facebook post, Zynga directed players to other Ville games such as Castleville, Chefville, Farmville 2, Mafia Wars and Youville.
For game publishers, the shuttering of less popular games is standard practice since they keep servers and other resources tied up to support only a few players. The actions taken by Zynga, however, may appear more drastic due to the large number of games being shut down at one time.
Zynga has seen its stock price fall as a result of disappointing earnings, and the company has had to take actions to concentrate on more profitable ventures in order to remain solvent. Zynga also experienced a hiccup in early December when it's relationship with Facebook changed from somewhat exclusive, to just another social game provider. While the change was seen as a rebuff of Zynga on Facebook's part, it could potentially herald a new phase of growth for the company by allowing it to operate across more platforms with fewer restrictions.
While Zynga may yet show signs of growing pains, the step back from Facebook could help Zynga pursue a wider audience on more platforms, including mobile.