Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Zynga Launches IPOVille

Click on this infographic to see a larger size.
Zynga has finally pulled the trigger, filing its S-1 with the SEC to begin the IPO process, looking to raise $1 billion dollars by offering its stock to the public. Why now, you ask? Without being on the inside, it's hard to say, but nothing stops people from speculating. I favor the theory that Zynga wants to beat Facebook to an IPO, because the logic seems sound: If Zynga is already public when Facebook does its IPO, then Zynga stock gets a  nice bounce (assuming Facebook stock zooms upward, which is a fairly good bet).

The S-1 is interesting, because it reveals more than we've known about Zynga's financials and operations. For one thing, we did know that Zynga and Facebook are pretty much joined at the hip. After nearly reaching a public meltdown, the two companies forged a deal so Zynga would use Facebook Credits and thereby give Facebook 30% of its revenue. While the S-1 confirms the 70%/30% revenue split (which is the standard revenue split for Facebook game devs), it doesn't clarify what other terms there are to the deal. For instance, does Facebook have an exclusive on Zynga games? Or could Zynga bring some of its games to some other social platform (like, say, Google+)?

It certainly does give you pause that Zynga is hugely dependent on Facebook, though the extent of the dependence is not revealed in the S-1. But clearly Zynga is still getting the vast majority of its revenue through Facebook, and Facebook could wake up one day and decide to change some terms in their favor. Of course, it would lead right back to Armageddon, as Zynga is responsible for a huge amount of Facebook's traffic and revenue (some estimates have been up to 40% of visits to Facebook were due to Zynga).

Zynga's financials look pretty impressive, as it's booked about a $90 million profit on about $600 million in sales. Pretty good when you're rapidly expanding, with all the costs associated with expansion. They project their profits to fall as they invest even more heavily in expansion, but that's to be expected. I think a logical course is for Zynga to invest in ways to reduce their dependence on Facebook for revenue, and to broaden their revenue base in general. I'd expect more releases that target different demographics, as Empires & Allies seems to have done (Zynga's released no data on who the audience is, but it seems obvious to me it's not the same as Farmville).

I know some people think social gaming is a bubble, and if you just look at how many social gaming startups are being funded I can't exactly say you're wrong. Still, I don't think the concept is a bubble, there's just too many startups chasing the space right now for everyone to make it. Zynga, however, is in the leadership position and doesn't look inclined to let go of that. It will be interesting to see if they can sustain their growth as Facebook levels off in acquiring new people, and just how Zynga responds if Google+ looks like it's getting anywhere.

One thing to watch for: If Apple TV/Google TV do make inroads into the family room, as I expect, this will be a big help to Zynga, as free-to-play games eat up console market share.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a daring ploy

    social gaming is probably the most entertaining thing I've ever done.

    Been in tears of laughter for hours on games like magicka tf2 wow with friends