×

Zynga Exploring Subscriptions for Games as Revenue Soars

Zynga is “testing and exploring” bringing subscription services to some of its games, Bernard Kim, the president of publishing told Variety shortly after its quarterly earnings report hit on Wednesday.

The company’s revenue was $265 million for its first quarter, which ended on March 31. That’s up 27% compared to the same period last fiscal year. Those results were driven by “Merge Dragons!” and “Empires & Puzzles,” as well as “strong contributions” from racing title “CSR2,” “Words with Friends,” and “Hit It Rich! Slots,” according to the company.

During its earnings call, Zynga Chief Executive Officer Frank Gibeau noted that subscriptions will be a “very viable business model” for the company in the long term and in the near term that it may be a good fit for some games.

Kim told Variety that the company was examining the notion of a subscription service for games like “Words With Friends” and that it would deliver extra content to players.

“When it comes to Zynga we try to put our customers first,” Kim said. “We want to make sure we are testing it properly before we roll it out because once we do, we can’t just roll it back.”

Word With Friends” is one of Zynga’s five “forever franchises,” or game franchise that the company believes have a long shelf-life, fosters the sort of play that encourages daily play and earns more than $100 million a year in revenue. The other forever franchises are “CSR Racing,” Empires & Puzzles,” “Merge Dragons!,” and “Zynga Poker.”

The plan moving forward for the company is to try and identify and build new forever franchises. To do that, Kim said, the company will look to its own franchises and some of the IP the company now has access to for future games. That includes “Game of Thrones,” which the company just announced a slot game for, “Harry Potter,” and “Star Wars.”

The company’s top titles, along with its work on those new IP titles, underlines the company’s long-term shift from creating Facebook games, to titles that play on smartphones. Zynga’s recent purchase of Gram Games and Small Giant Games also underscores that shift.  Kim said the company’s primary focus right now is on three major areas: live services, building and buying new forever games, and investing in emerging and new markets.

While Kim said the company is excited about the growth and potential in the mobile games market, Gibeau said Zynga is unlikely to play any role in Apple’s recently announced Arcade subscription service.

Gibeau noted that the Arcade service is focused on premium games, and Zynga is a company that focuses on free-to-play. Kim echoed that sentiment.

Apple Arcade is going after an audience in the market that wants to finish games, playing them from start to end,” he said. “We love creative thinking like that, it brings tremendous exposure to the category of mobile gaming.

“We believe we are in a renaissance of mobile gaming and that in-app purchases and the app economy is still in its infancy.”

Popular on Variety

More Gaming

  • Google Stadia Game Streaming Service Launching

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service Will Launch Nov. 19

    Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh gave us an update on the company’s game streaming service Stadia during the company’s fall hardware event in New York Tuesday: Stadia will be available to the public on Nov. 19. Stadia promises to stream games directly from the cloud, with no need to buy a full-blown game console. Consumers [...]

  • Fortnite Chapter 2

    'Fortnite' Emerges From Black Hole With All-New Island in Chapter 2

    After its previous world was sucked into a black hole, “Fortnite” is back — with an all-new island featuring a map with 13 different locations. The latest installment of the free-to-play battle royale game, which publisher Epic Games calls the first season of “Fortnite” Chapter 2, went live early Tuesday at around 6 a.m. ET. [...]

  • Fortnite-Season-X-Out-of-Time

    'Fortnite' Goes Dark: A Masterful Marketing Stroke by Epic Games

    On Sunday, “Fortnite” — the most popular game on Earth right now — without warning, imploded into darkness. At around 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 13, a meteor in Season 10 of “Fortnite” that had been biding its time set off a cataclysmic chain reaction that sucked up everything on the the island and eventually [...]

  • Hearthstone video game

    Blizzard Reinstates Hong Kong Gamer's Prize but Reaffirms Censure of His Speech

    Major U.S. gaming firm Blizzard Entertainment has reduced its punishment for a professional gamer who shouted a slogan in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. But the company doubled down on its verdict about the inappropriateness of his conduct. In a Chinese language-only message on its official social media, Blizzard stated that it would “resolutely [...]

  • Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Stock Recovers From Hong Kong Fallout

    Activision Blizzard saw its stock recover Friday despite continued backlash over its decision to punish a “Hearthstone” player for publicly siding with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. The company’s share price was up more than 2% Friday, closing at $54.82. Activision had been in the spotlight ever since Ng Wai Chung, a player of its “Hearthstone” [...]

  • Mixer Co-Founders Leave Microsoft's Twitch Competitor

    Microsoft’s Mixer Streaming Service Loses Its Two Co-Founders

    Microsoft’s Twitch competitor Mixer has lots its two co-founders: Both Matt Salsamendi and James J. Boehm, who co-founded the startup that eventually became Mixer in 2011, have both left the company over the past 2 weeks. The departure comes just a few weeks after Mixer poached famed video game streamer Ninja from Amazon’s Twitch. Salsamendi [...]

  • Trump-Twitch-channel

    Donald Trump Is Now on Amazon's Twitch Streaming Service

    Donald Trump has joined Twitch, the game-focused live-streaming service, apparently in an effort to widen his unfiltered 2020 reelection messaging as the embattled U.S. president faces a fast-moving impeachment inquiry. Trump’s first Twitch broadcast was from his campaign rally Thursday in Minneapolis, where among other targets he lashed out at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Somali [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content