Who wants to stop at just one game debut in the first week of the year? Not Zynga. The social gaming company wasn't going to wait to see how its first post-IPO game faired before rolling out a second game in two days. On Thursday, Zynga announced the launch of Scramble with Friends -- the third word-based social game by the company best known for virtual world-building games like FarmVille and CityVille.
While the first post-IPO for the company was the object search game Hidden Chronicles that hit Facebook on Wednesday, Scramble with Friends is available for the mobile world of iOS.
Both of these social games are added to the catalog for Zynga just over two weeks after the San Francisco company went public with a lackluster showing.
On the first day on the NASDAQ, Zynga's stock broke through its IPO price of $10 a share and closed there at $9.50.
The poor showing came after the stock popped opened at $11. A 10% pop is a modest one compared to past Internet IPOs in recent history. Groupon opened on the exchange a substantial 30% above its initial price and LinkedIn opened and almost double the $45 stock price on its first day. Even the now troubled Pandora saw a 31% pop for its stock upon it debut.
The new game allows players to find hidden objects, solve puzzles, play memory games and factor in social gameplay.
The setting of this adventure is Ramsey Manor, where players will earn coins, experience points, and unique items to help them customize their estate and compete against other friends that find this game addictive.
Zynga is taking these two games to follow-up on the much needed expansion on the well-known titles such as FarmVIille, CityVille and Words with Friends.
Despite Zynga listening to critics and bringing on new games, the company stock (NASDAQ: ZNGA) saw a 5% drop yesterday and was trading Thursday at $8.99.
Zynga has found some strength on the mobile side of gaming with its two word-based games: Hanging with Friends and Words with Friends.
At the close of 2010, Zynga acquired a Texas-based gaming company, Newtoy, for an undisclosed amount. That purchase helped spur the company's mobile word market and in the last year they have seen much-needed growth in social mobile gaming because of these two games. The Newtoy technology is also used for Zynga's Chess with Friends.
Words with Friends currently has 15.9 million monthly average users and Hanging with Friends trails with 3.9 MAU.
Scramble With Friends
This new game is similar to Zynga’s ‘Word Scramble’ iOS app, but allows for social gameplay. Players compete against opponents to beat the clock locate as many words in a scramble of lettered tiles on the screen.
Each match consists of three, two-minutes rounds to get the most points and your opponent seems the same screens and has the same time limits to beat the first player.
For those familiar with Boggle -- this is a high-tech riff on the game-night classic.
The play option rounds include ‘classic play’ with standard point values for each letter; ‘double down’ where gameplay includes double letter and word values strewn throughout the game board; and 'triple crown’ where you can log in triple letter and word scores.
In order to monetize this game, as Zynga must, there is a token system much like you see in Hanging with Friends and Words with Friends. The purchase of digital goods gives the purchaser advantages in the rounds that they play.
Zynga is hungry for another major hit in its catalog, especially since the last one to really hold audience attention and collect revenue on a big scale was the 2010 release of CityVille.
Zynga is expected to grow revenues in 2012 due to the 2011 new games such as Adventure World in September, Mafia Wars 2 and CastleVille in November, in addition to the continued expansion on the mobile market -- and more gaming companies are looking to be follow this trend.
In 2010, players spent nearly $510 million on virtual goods and by 2012 that number is expected to rise to nearly $780 million according to PopCap Games and TripWire magazine. And while there are a staggering 53 million social media gamers in the U.S., the adoption by other countries has been far greater by percentage -- with more than 26% of the UK using social games and nearly 30% in Japan.