For 'Zynga to become the Google of games,' it will take more than good timing

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus
Earlier this summer, The New York Times spoke with Zynga CEO Mark Pincus about his rise to social gaming domination and came to the conclusion that the Facebook gaming mogul, who is expected to take in as much as $500 million this year alone, could "become the Google of games." And they just might be right, but it's going to take Pincus to execute a lot more creative energy and finesse than those before him.

Pincus said to the New York Times that his chance to capitalize on social gaming was "like search before Google came along."

The creator of FarmVille is actually following Google's path pretty closely, coming into the social games market in the middle of its Wild West phase and taking a stranglehold of the market much like how Google blazed the trail for search back in the late 1990s. However, there is one key difference in Zynga's empire than those of the internet titans like Google, eBay, Yahoo, Amazon and Facebook: Zynga depends more heavily on those before it than any successful internet start-up has to date.

Find more on how similar Zynga's path to greatness is to Google's and how it is to stay on top after the break.

While Pincus was right in thinking in 2007, "There has to be more than "a garage sale, a bookstore, a search engine and a portal," where would social gaming be without Facebook, Google or even Yahoo? All three of these companies have contributed such a great deal to Zynga's success to the point now that the company owes much of its reign over social games to them. Which is exactly why Pincus has made good friends with all three to stay in the game.

It's been rumored that Google has invested a considerable amount of cash in Zynga, while in return the company is helping them along in developing its imminent games initiative fittingly-named Google Games. Recently Zynga and Facebook came to end a squabble--one that could have easily ended in Zynga saying goodbye to its primary platform--that resulted in the gaming giant cosigning to the social network's new, regularized currency, Facebook Credits, for five years with Facebook seeing a portion of the profits. Yahoo just signed a deal with Zynga to host its lot of social games as well, which will surely boost the company's monthly user base by a considerable margin.

Much like Google, Zynga has also drawn the ire of the public recently with the "ScamVille" incident covered by TechCrunch and the San Francisco Chronicle revealing some of Pincus' harsher words to his former employees. While Pincus is experiencing the usual highs and lows of an uber-successful internet start up, he will soon--if he hasn't already--reach the point where the only room for growth is innovation. Google could have never been the top search engine in the world if it didn't tweak its game with Google Apps, a movement that has earned the company some of the most used web applications around like Google Mail, Blogger, Picasa and Google Docs.

It was these applications that put the Google name on nearly everything users touched daily, something Zynga should consider as it reaches that point in its life where traffic is dipping due to its platforms and users catching on. With the recent changes to Facebook, Pincus will have to do more than just expand to another platform to remain relevant.

FarmVilleLet's face it: Zynga's recent loss of 21 million players, wasn't solely due to Facebook cutting the amount of stories users posted to their feeds from social gaming. Part of the decline was because, quite frankly, at least some of Zynga's players realized that the company's current design philosophy has become a bit stale. FrontierVille has innovated on some levels of action-oriented gameplay, but we've yet to see an honest-to-goodness new design philosophy behind one of the company's games since its rise to power.

Every major company needs to bring about something new at some point to stick in the minds of the public (just look at Apple's product line). Look at Facebook, for example. There is no way the social network could ever become as massive as it is today without first opening its gates to more than just college students, then structuring itself to support games and apps and finally invading opening its arms to the internet completely with the Open Graph-- you can thank the Open Graph for the "Like" button underneath the headline of this very article.

Does Zynga have the potential to become the "Google of games?" Well, it's most definitely in that position, but it is up to Pincus to decide whether he wants Zynga to be more than just FarmVille and Mafia Wars and truly move the industry forward. Could Zynga's newest game coming this year be their answer?

[Image Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

What do you think Zynga needs to do before they can be considered the "Google of games?" Let us know in the comments. Add Comment.
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