Zynga chief executive Mark Pincus was quiet for the past couple of months as Facebook went public and Zynga geared up for its big Unleashed event last week, where the massive social-game developer unveiled its latest social games. But afterward, Zynga unleashed Pincus for an interview with the Associated Press. Here’s some of the choice quotes from the man whose company brought us social games on Facebook such as FarmVille, CityVille, and now The Ville.
Associated Press: There is a lot of money in Silicon Valley right now. How does it compare with what was happening in the ’90s?
Mark Pincus, Zygna: There are so many ways I think this is different. The most fundamental difference is that we are seeing consumer Internet services delivering a lot more of the promise that everyone saw 12 years ago. It’s happening faster. And the size of the audience that successful applications are reaching seems to be getting bigger and bigger.
The second difference is that there is a much more sustainable, scalable, profitable business model behind successful products and services that can sustain these companies. And the third difference that goes along with the first two is that in Silicon Valley, the culture and the entrepreneurs have grown up. Even the younger ones show so much more maturity than 12 years ago. You see the companies that are growing up today want to build long-term, sustainable consumer brands and franchises.
Associated Press: Where would you like to see social games go from here?
Mark Pincus: The promise of games for everyday people is still so much greater than the experience that everyone has today. The overall tectonic shifts that are going on in games and more broadly in media are that everything is moving to becoming free, social, and accessible. But we’re just at the beginning of this. We can get to a day where short-session play can enhance, if not replace, text messaging as a way to stay in touch with people.
Associated Press: Zynga still makes a lot of its revenue through Facebook. Should this worry people, and is it going to change?
Mark Pincus: It has been hugely positive for us, for Facebook and for both of our consumers. Facebook has been an incredible catalyst, an accelerator, of social gaming and of other industries. And we are appreciative of that, and we think that we helped see a significant catalyst for engagement on their own platform, and now on iPhone as well.
But with that will come interdependency. We’ve seen that in other industries. With Cable TV, you’ve got HBO owned by Time Warner. It’s served up by AT&T or Comcast, who are often direct competitors with each other. But they all collaborate for the benefit of the customer.
Associated Press: But you also launched your own platform. So it seems like you’re also interested in making Zynga its own platform and its own brand so that it’s not just the company that makes games for Facebook.
Mark Pincus: It’s important for us to have a direct branded relationship with our consumers. We created Zynga.com because we wanted to offer a dedicated destination for social gaming. It’s something that is only about social gaming and can go beyond what we can do on other platforms. But it leverages the best of what we get with Facebook.
Pincus is the opening speaker in a fireside chat with me at our conferences MobileBeat 2012 and GamesBeat 2012 on July 10-11. [Photo Credit: Dean Takahashi. Pictured is Pincus with his dog Zinga, which the company is named after].
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