Zynga chief Don Mattrick steers the struggling social game publisher into a mobile future (interview)

GamesBeat: Can you talk about your guidance?

Mattrick: We’ve given guidance for Q3 and Q4. The key concept is, we’re shifting some revenue from 2014 to 2015. It’s split between NaturalMotion and Zynga. I’m still excited about our potential. We’re making these choices in a purposeful way. The framework for that comes when we go into geo-lock. If we see there’s an area where we can innovate or refine and get to a better consumer result, we’re doing it. It’s painful in the short term, but I believe we’ll build a better business, a better relationship with consumers, by putting the choices in that medium to long-term frame.

Zynga Poker's new table look

Above: Zynga Poker’s new table look

Image Credit: Zynga

GamesBeat: Are your big mobile games meeting expectations?

Mattrick: Let me tell you about two different things. First, with FarmVille, what we’ve heard from consumers—Our web players on FarmVille 2 were saying, “We wish Zynga had a mobile version of FarmVille 2 that we can play on our phones and tablets.” Particularly on iOS and Android. We scrambled and built a product that worked on those devices. We build a bunch of tech, which is a valuable set of assets. We have a global identity system. We have the ability to move game states between mobile devices. We have a shared economy and trading between the web version and mobile. We knew that we were launching something that would live in the market for years, not months. We’re off to a reasonable start.

I do believe that we will grow our business through these products and additional FarmVille products in the future. It’s just sequencing the timing and development cycle in a way that benefits consumers and gives our team the time and headroom that they need. I believe in what the team’s accomplished. We have more opportunity and potential in front of us in relation to FarmVille. We’ll get there in 2015 and beyond. It’s a good start.

Again, it addresses the core question I spent a lot of time answering when I joined the company a year ago. The question was, “All your revenue is on the web. Can you generate any in the mobile space?” In 2014, even with the deferral of revenue to 2015, we’re still going to have the majority of our revenue come from the mobile space. It’s all part of the transformation journey. I’m encouraged by the benefit to consumers and where our teams have gotten to in this period of time.

With Poker, we believe this is a leadership product. It needs to be at a high quality bar, on the web and on iOS and Android. When we looked at it, the team had ideas for new features, for things they wanted to layer in, and they required more time. Again, we decided to give the team more time so that we’re building a great experience that can live in markets for multiple years.

GamesBeat: Can you talk about the Orlando team and how you got that going? How large is that going to be?

Mattrick: They’re a great group of people who have worked on golf products and sports products in the past. They’re interested in taking their skills and applying them to new devices with a real aspiration to create the best, most authentic 21st-century global sports brand we can imagine. It’s fun for me because it’s people I’ve known for years and worked with in the past. It’s great to have them as part of Zynga. We’re off to a strong start.

There’s more news to come in the future, but today we’re celebrating the NFL and Woods deals. We’re going to continue to invest in that. We see it as a big opportunity. There are lots of people who are passionate and love sports inside our company. We have the people capabilities. We just have to do the heavy lifting and create and continue to invest.

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Zynga Inc. is the world's largest social game developer with more than 232 million monthly active users playing their games which include CityVille, FarmVille, FrontierVille, Words With Friends, Mafia Wars, Zynga Poker, Cafe World, and... read more »

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Feares Monkeyes
Feares Monkeyes

The Xbox One was a disaster at launch, requiring many 180 degree turns to get it on track. I would love for him to answer questions 

about that. But no, he leaves for Zynga right when everything went south, and never has to face anyone for his decisions at MS. I'd love to know what decisions was his, what was Balmers, who was responsible for the mess the Xbox One was in the beginning.

I'd like to know what he thinks about all the 180's since he left MS, and how he feels Sony has done.

Gene Gigandet
Gene Gigandet

  Just the name ZYNGA is enough to keep consumers away and have a lack of trust , it like poison

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