Zynga is the new four-letter word
Zynga's big debut on the stock market seems to be on everyone's mind this week -- and not necessarily in a good way -- as industry watchers come out of the woodwork to talk about the not-so-perfect state of the company behind games such as FarmVille, CityVille and Words with Friends.
First, there are several reports on how Zynga's games are not doing so hot. Cowen and Company analysts say that Zynga's new Facebook game CastleVille might be attracting lots of players, but at the expense of its other big Facebook games. The report says CastleVille has tied with FarmVille as the second most popular game on Facebook, with 6.9 million daily users each, but that November is still an overall "disappointment" for Zynga, because the company's other big Facebook games saw a collective loss of 3.8 million daily players in the past month. Another article in Businessweek talks about how the recently launched Mafia Wars 2 is failing to meet expectations, losing 900K daily active users in roughly a month.
In addition to a flagging player population, it seems like Zynga and its CEO aren't exactly winning friends. Venture Beat points out that Zynga CEO's Mark Pincus' approval rating is a low 46% and another story in the New York Times says long hours and grueling deadlines has grumbling employees counting down the days until they can cash out their stock and then jump ship. The same Times article talks about how Zynga's not-so-friendly culture could be a reason that Angry Birds creator Rovio turned down Zynga's offer of $2.5 billion in cash and stock this summer.
With a possible IPO in December, it sounds like Zynga's going to have to be on its best behavior to get onto Santa's (and investors') nice list this year.