Draw Something rapidly declines in popularity after Zynga acquisition

Perhaps Zynga was seduced by the meteoric rise of the over simplistic Draw Something and did not stop to analyse whether the newest addition would have any staying power over its other games.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Live fast, die young seems to be the motto of Draw Something, the mobile social game acquired by Zynga in March.

Its Daily Active Users (DAU) count has plummeted by over four million in just one month since it was purchased. It seems to be an expensive flop for Zynga which paid $210 million for the game which hit 50 million downloads in April.

Credit: Appdata

Draw Something has lost 100,000 users over the last seven days.  This seems like a small percentage of its 9.1 million Daily Active Users, but compared against all of the other games it is a huge drop, percentage-wise.  Overall Zynga has almost 59 million Daily Active Users, dropping almost 500,000 during the same time period.

So what went wrong?

Could it be that in becoming part of the Zynga stable Draw Something lost some of its own personality?  Zynga has had a very close relationship with Facebook and is Facebook's top games developer.  Around 265 million people play Zynga's 79 games each month on PC and mobile devices according to App Data.

Zynga has made moves to break some of its services away from Facebook. It has set up its own gaming service to capture users that do not want to play games from within Google+, Facebook or MySpace.

Zynga does not want its users to be constrained by a single destination and has also transitioned from Amazon Web Services to its own Citrix-enabled Z-Cloud.

But Facebook needs Zynga and Zynga needs Facebook. According to the IPO filings for the SEC Facebook stated:

In 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, we estimate that up to 19% and 15% of our revenue, respectively, was derived from Payments processing fees from Zynga, direct advertising from Zynga, and revenue from third parties for ads shown on pages generated by Zynga apps. If Zynga does not maintain its level of engagement with our users or if we are unable to successfully maintain our relationship with Zynga, our financial results could be harmed.

Facebook charges Zynga 30 per cent to redeem each Facebook Credit purchased during gaming. Even considering the purchase of Instagram for future mobile advertising revenue opportunities, Zynga contributes a significant slice of the Facebook pie inb terms of cash.

All Zynga users must have a valid, real Facebook account and connect their Facebook account to their Zynga user name if they want to play any games covered on Facebook. The relationship is symbiotic, ensuring that both parties are incentivised to grow users.

The marriage of Facebook and Zynga is set to last for some considerable time yet. According to its amendment to its IPO filing with the SEC the relationship is set in place until 2015. Both Facebook and Zynga are committed to increasing the number of monthly active users playing social games on Facebook.

Quickly seduced?

Perhaps it is fatigue with Zynga itself. Last year it filed for $1 billion in the run up to its IPO, shares slumping 10 per cent below IPO during its first day of public trading.

Perhaps the original OMGPOP Draw Something experience changed as it became Zynga-fied. There are only so many colours you can buy, reduce your letters, draw the same image over and over again or play more difficult words.

Perhaps Zynga was seduced by the meteoric rise of the over simplistic Draw Something and did not stop to analyse whether the newest addition would have any staying power over its other games. A game designed entirely for touch screens will never attract the legions of mouse and keyboard gamers.

Perhaps the iPad wielding, touch screen gamers won over the decision makers at Zynga. Perhaps the existing model of generating revenue, increasing users and good old fashioned common business sense was derailed in the enthusiasm to buy.

Perhaps the original creators of Draw Something knew exactly when to quit when they were ahead of the game.

Or perhaps the very simplicity of the game which attracted us in our millions is now the same simplicity that is turning us towards our next, more challenging addiction.

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