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Zynga has decided to shut all aspects of the OMGPOP division that it bought for $180 million about 17 months ago. The announcement comes as no surprise, since employees of OMGPOP, the makers of the former hit game Draw Something, confirmed that the closure was coming in June. It evidently took some time for Zynga to finalize the plans.
TechCrunch reported that the OMGPOP team was in contact with Zynga to buy back the OMGPOP.com website and continue operating its games. But Zynga reportedly refused, even when the group proposed to buy everything except the more valuable Draw Something property. Zynga reportedly said it would take too much legal work and decided not to sell anything. It laid off all OMGPOP employees and said today the OMGPOP.com site would stop operating on Sept. 30. Zynga will shut down some of the games — Cupcake Corner, Gem Rush, Pool World Champ, and Snoops — on Aug. 29.
Zynga declined comment. The company has its hands full with a re-evaluation of its strategy under new chief executive Don Mattrick. Mattrick, former head of the Microsoft games business, joined Zynga as CEO in early July. Mark Pincus, Zynga’s founder, became chief product officer and chairman. On July 25, Mattrick said he was formulating his strategy over the next three months, and he expected volatility in the company for two to four quarters.
That volatility just wiped out OMGPOP.com, which was reportedly operating profitably and had more than 30,000 monthly active users. Zynga has been cutting a lot of other games (and hundreds of employees). But none really epitomized the frenzy over mobile gaming as Draw Something, which saw a meteoric rise in popularity and then a steep decline within a matter of weeks after Zynga bought it. The publisher recently released Draw Something 2, but the game didn’t meet the company’s expectations.
Players of the affected games are being offered compensation packages in other Zynga titles, including FarmVille 2, Hidden Shadows, and Bubble Safari. Zynga will continue to support the Draw Something titles.
“Our goal at Zynga is to give players the opportunity to play the most fun and social games on the web,” reads a company statement. “With this goal in mind, we have decided to close some OMGPOP games to make way for new and exciting gaming opportunities.”