With Bingo, Zoo World's maker falls back on its publishing roots [Interview]

Bingo By Ryzing Beach Slots
Bingo By Ryzing Beach Slots

You won't see as many games created by RockYou proper--the developer behind Zoo World, its sequel and recently Hooked--in 2012. RockYou has gone publisher-turned-developer-turned-publisher again (with a small focus on development), starting with a publishing agreement between RockYou Studio Partners and Bingo by Ryzing. And RockYou appears confident in its decision.

"We've been interested in Bingo as a genre and gameplay mechanic for over a year now. We're really impressed with the team at Ryzing, both in terms of the numbers they were generating currently and their road map," RockYou Studio Partners GM Josh Grant tells us. "It's also very complimentary with some of our existing original IPs [intellectual properties]."

This publishing partnership between Philadelphia, Penn.-based Ryzing and Redwood City, Calif.-based RockYou marks a shift for the latter. Since the publisher was forced to lay off about 100 of its staff, sell Gourmet Ranch creator Playdemic (and its game) back to its original founders and call it quits with Cloudforest Expedition maker Loot Drop, RockYou looks to return to its strengths.

"Look, a rift is always hard," RockYou CEO Lisa Marino admits. "I think what we did was as a leadership and management team is that we committed to a media model, and we very much went back to our roots We understand monetization and distribution in games incredibly well, and you'll see that in our history since 2006. The piece that we also are working on is partnering with really strong content whether we publish it or create it."

RockYou's "media model," according to Marino, has two pillars: "One is dual monetization: whether we publish the game or it's an owned and operated property, has advertising and digital goods inside of it. The other piece is that we have over 500 million installs, given our history and previous applications we still own, and nobody has that base of installs outside of Zynga."


With that outlook, Marino tells us that RockYou expects to produce about one third of its content internally in 2012. The company will instead focus on bringing more gamers (and more money) to games created by teams focused on just that: games. As for Bingo by Ryzing, there's another reason why it chose to publish the game rather than create its own.

"Talking about publishing specifically, I don't want another Bingo game in my portfolio," Marino (pictured) says, referring to the current hot topic in social games: copycatting. "We're really excited about Bingo by Ryzing. We're super committed to that game. We're putting ad spend on it, [and] we're actively growing it. For us, it's very much about looking at titles that round out the offering that we have from an advertising and digital goods perspective in addition to complimenting our existing demographic."

Despite the new RockYou, so to speak, having a clearer outlook on how it thrive in the future, the company still faces serious challenges. Frankly, every social game company out there does. (Yes, even Zynga.) The fact of the matter is, launching a game on Facebook is just the beginning. (A glance out how some of Facebook's most popular games are in decline speaks volumes to that.)

RockYou CEO Lisa Marino
RockYou CEO Lisa Marino

"I think the hardest thing that people don't talk a lot about in the social game space is that launching a title isn't very hard. It's taking that title from launch to a profitable business that's very difficult," Marino admits. "And frankly, RockYou is a company that has been challenged by that in the past. And many game developers are, in fact, challenged by that. Zynga does it incredibly well. But it's that migration from launch into a profitable business that we're really working and focusing on with things like Bingo, Hooked and Galactic Allies."

Now that Bingo by Ryzing is more like Bingo by Ryzing (and RockYou), what can fans expect for the rest of 2012? "We've got two to three more published games coming out this year," Marino tells us. "And we're actively working on publishing Bingo and Galactic Allies, and seeing whether we can build profitable businesses around those games."

[Image Credit: Johnson & Moo]

Are you a fan of Bingo by Ryzing? What other game genres do you hope RockYou gets into in the future? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.