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When was the last time you drew something? No, I don’t mean the doodle you made while you were supposed to be paying attention to the conference call, I mean when was the last time you played Draw Something on your phone?
The app peaked in popularity this time last year, back when Words with Friends was getting Alec Baldwin kicked off of planes. Since then, the novelty has worn off for both of those games as we currently live in a Snapchat world. The social is still there, the game aspect is not.
Zynga seems to know that users aren’t flocking to social networks for games anymore, which is why they’re shutting down several smaller games and going back to the drawing board (ba-dum-tssh) with the launch of Draw Something 2. The app is like a mesh between Snapchat and Instagram… but with drawings. You still guess the drawings of others, but now you can save, comment and like the doodles of people you follow. You can also send drawings to Facebook and Twitter.
Draw Something 2 combines what is popular now (photo sharing, both of the hipster and disappearing variety) with what was popular a year ago. There’s nothing new or innovative, which is why this game will fail. The sequel is rarely as good as the original, especially when it’s made out of desperation.
If Zynga is a sinking ship, then the crew is currently dumping all the unnecessary objects overboard in hopes of restoring buoyancy. Those objects currently include Zynga City, Dream Zoo and The Ville. According to CNET, revenue for Zynga has dropped 18 percent in the past year. If only you could grow real dollars in Farmville.
The company is trying to broaden their target market by going after casual gamers, not just the diehards, which is questionable business sense. They’re blatantly ignoring the 80/20 rule (the 20 percent of users that actually pay to buy game tools and upgrades) and catering to the casual users who give up or get bored after an hour or so. It’s the equivalent of bud light creating a commercial that exclusively targets women.
Zynga isn’t the only game developer that’s consolidating its games and desperately seeking profits. Last week EA decided to remove three of its games from Facebook due to lack of interest.
EA is not the path that Zynga should be following. On top of closing down some of their Facebook games and failing to successfully launch others, EA has been steadily closing its offices around the world. Employees in Quebec, Galway and Brazil have all been told to clean out their desks and seek employment elsewhere.
What is happening to social gaming? EA and Zynga should be embracing Facebook and online engagement, not running from it. Stop chasing the past and rehashing existing content, we want something new.