Will Zynga regret buying OMGPOP?

Summary:The number of people using social drawing app Draw Something has plunged by 4 million in the last month alone; so was Zynga a bit hasty in buying app developer OMGPOP?

The number of people using social drawing app Draw Something has plunged by 4 million in the last month alone; so was Zynga a bit hasty in buying app developer OMGPOP?

In March, social game giant Zynga bought Draw Something maker OMGPOP for US$180 million. OMGPOP has been around for a while, releasing a number of social media games, but it was only noticed by Zynga after the launch of its Pictionary-style social game Draw Something in February. In the first two weeks of the release of the app, it had clocked up over 10 million downloads.

At the start of April, just after the Zynga buy, the game had over 50 million downloads and 14 million daily users. But that's where the game's success peaked. According to information from AppData, the game has shed 4 million daily users in the last month alone.

Draw Something's player numbers for the past month.
(Credit: AppData)

Myself included. I can't really figure out what changed, but at some point, around the time of the Zynga buy, the novelty of trying to draw pictures for friends wore off. Part of it was that OMGPOP didn't push out any new words, so you'd often end up drawing the same thing over and over — only with different friends. Even getting a shiny new non-4G iPad with a stylus didn't seem to motivate me to continue drawing masterpieces — and I use that term very loosely — for my friends.

So maybe it was just a passing fad.

Ten million daily active users is still pretty good, and Zynga could turn Draw Something's fortune around by adding new words or methods of drawing, but the decline does raise questions about social media giants paying bucket loads of cash for burgeoning app companies in the future.

The most obvious example is Facebook slapping down US$1 billion for photo-sharing app Instagram.

Lots of people were pretty shocked at how much Facebook was willing to fork out for a smartphone app that lets people upload photos of their food or their shoes and make them look like they're from the '70s. Yet it wasn't really about the hipster filtering; it was about the platform and the people.

Instagram created an app that makes uploading photos to share simple and easy, and it is the biggest photo-sharing site on the internet, with 250 million photos uploaded daily. Facebook's own app is still a clunky mess, so bringing the Instagram people on-board can only help.

It's much less clear what Zynga is getting out of OMGPOP, a company that's just a one-hit wonder at this point, and whose one-hit app is dropping in popularity by the day.

We will have to wait and see, but the Facebook-Instagram and Zynga-OMGPOP deals could become the case study for what social networking companies should and shouldn't do when they're looking at an acquisition.

Topics: Social Enterprise


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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