游戏邦在:
杂志专栏:
gamerboom.com订阅到鲜果订阅到抓虾google reader订阅到有道订阅到QQ邮箱订阅到帮看

在质疑中的成长:zynga4年的社交游戏进程

发布时间:2010-11-22 11:02:30 Tags:,,,,

2009年春,社交游戏公司Zynga进驻了旧金山一座年代久远的办公楼,开发者们疯狂地编写着一款令这家年轻公司引领一种潮流的游戏。

社交游戏FarmVille中的田园式生活缓解了人们现实生活的压力,玩家可以在游戏中播种,收获,与朋友们进行各种互动。

随着游戏日活跃用户增至10万人,Zynga公司不得不提高技术支持。而当FarmVille在2009年6月正式发布时,FarmVille的日活跃用户迅速攀升至100万人,使得游戏工程师们不得不疯狂地编写和修改程序,增加服务器。Zynga毫无以为置身于全球发展最迅速的网络公司之列。

Zynga通过在Facebook等社交网站提供游戏瞄准玩家市场。之后他们发现部分玩家愿意花费现实金钱购买可加速游戏体验的虚拟商品。“我们坚信如果能令玩家越便捷地接触到游戏,游戏的社交性就能大大提高,玩家数量也会有所提高。”Zynga创办者Mark Pincus表示,现年44岁。

FarmVille

FarmVille

正因为Mark Pincus预见了这一机遇,Zynga公司迅速取得了成功。据业内人事估计,2010年Zynga公司的年收入将超过5亿美元。很多人认为不久之后Zynga公司将会上市,如此一来Pincus就可能成为这一领域的超级富豪。

社交游戏是目前十分热门的行业领域。几年,迪士尼公司和老牌视频游戏巨头Electronic Arts分别以上亿价格收购了Zynga公司的劲敌Playdom和Playfish。但毫无疑问,Zynga是目前社交游戏领域最具实力的公司之一,据股票交易公司SharesPost估计,Zynga公司目前的估值大约为55亿美元。

盈利的捷径

Zynga公司的成功并不是昙花一现,一种真实的经营模式加速了Zynga的发展。尽管Zynga公司宣称其玩家中只有2%为付费玩家,然而亿的2%也是一个相当大的数字。Zynga公司称其Facebook社交网站平台上月活跃用户多达2亿880万人,凭此Inside Network预计Zynga公司2010年的年收入将达到5亿美元。此前,Mark Pincus还指出Zynga从创办后的第9个月便开始盈利。Zynga主要能够过招聘和收购其他公司逐渐向国际市场迈进,由于员工慢慢增多,今年9月,Zynga与旧金山一处新办公楼签下了5年合约,以容纳旗下1200多名员工。

走向繁荣

那么,这样一家成立还不满4年的公司是如何超越网络巨头公司EA的呢?

Zynga

Zynga

Zynga是首家抓住机遇挺进社交游戏领域的公司,他们发现了这种比传统游戏模式更贴近玩家的游戏体验。“我们将游戏放在人们常去的平台中,让该平台的用户沉溺于这款游戏。”其中,Pincus发现部分十分沉溺于游戏中的玩家就会愿意购买某些能加速游戏体验的虚拟商品。他抓住了人们的这一心理。当Zynga在2007年9月发布首款游戏Texas Hold’Em Poker后,同月该款游戏马上就开始盈利。同年夏天,Zynga的新游戏Mafia Wars吸引了Facebook平台近4000万月活跃用户。

营销和发展动力

Pincus和其他执行官指出Zynga公司的运营策略在于:设计更高质的游戏体验,根据玩家游戏情况进行调整,加大对技术支持,客户服务和营销手段的投入。同时,公司还会对表现优良的员工进行奖励,譬如拉斯维加斯旅游的有薪假期等。

反面观点

然而也有些人认为Zynga公司的成就是通过向玩家发送垃圾邮件,控制玩家和抄袭游戏取得的。

FarmVille与早期游戏Farm Town十分相似,而Mafia Wars则类似于另一款Facebook游戏Mob Wars。也正因此,Mob Wars的开发商就版权问题向Zynga公司提出诉讼。最终,这一事件以Zynga向Mob Wars开发商支付一笔费用告终,但Zynga并没有透露这笔费用的具体数字。

另一方面的发展

现在的另一个问题是:Zynga是真实的吗?在其盈利的同时,Zynga公司本身是否也有所成长?

2009年10月,Zynga发布了非营利的Zynga.org,鼓励玩家购买“虚拟商品”为海地地震的受难者们捐款。今年6月,Zynga公司发布了其首款原创游戏FrontierVille。该款游戏的画面和游戏机制都比Zynga之前的游戏作品更加复杂。与此同时,Zynga逐步扩大其社交游戏的运营领域,发布智能手机版社交游戏,与雅虎签订合约协议,同时还和谷歌公司达成合作。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,转载请注明来源:游戏邦)

During the spring of 2009, Zynga developers were packed into aging offices in San Francisco, furiously coding a new game that would cement the young company’s lead in the nascent social gaming space.

FarmVille offered players a pastoral respite from daily stresses, a chance to plant seeds, harvest crops and raise barns with friends.

Zynga beefed up its technology to support as many as 100,000 daily players. But within days of FarmVille’s June launch, the number topped 1 million, forcing engineers into a mad scramble to fix software and add servers.

“We had jumped on this rocket ship and were just trying to keep it from blowing up in our faces,” said Luke Rajlich, chief technology officer of FarmVille.

That’s life at Zynga speed. The company ranks among the most rapidly expanding Internet companies in the world.

Zynga tapped into a huge market of people who like to play games by providing new outlets on social networks like Facebook. And it found that many would pay real money for virtual goods that enhanced their experience or accelerated their progress.

“We had a fundamental belief that, if people found games at their fingertips, if you really reduced the barriers to entry to games and you made them social, then a much larger group would engage,” said Mark Pincus, 44, who founded Zynga in January 2007.

He was indisputably farsighted in recognizing the opportunity and has been rewarded with a company that could pull down a half billion in revenue in its fourth year. There’s rampant speculation the company will go public, an event that would propel Pincus into the leagues of the region’s super-rich.

But the conspicuous success of Zynga Game Network has also engendered scrutiny as some questioned the business practices that secured its early lead in the sector.

Social gaming is a scorching industry. In recent months, Walt Disney Co. and gaming giant Electronic Arts agreed to buy Zynga rivals Playdom and Playfish, respectively, in deals worth hundreds of millions.

Zynga, however, easily boasts the high score.

SharesPost, an exchange for shares of private companies, says the company is valued at $5.5 billion.
Quick trip to profitability

Unlike the shooting stars of San Francisco’s dot-com era, a real business model has fueled Zynga’s rise.

Only about 2 percent of social gaming users spend money, but 2 percent of hundreds of millions of users adds up to big numbers, said Mark Rose, vice president at virtual goods marketplace PlaySpan.

Zynga boasts 208.8 million active players per month on Facebook and could reach $500 million in revenue this year, research firm Inside Network estimates. The company has been profitable since it was 9 months old, Pincus said.

Zynga is expanding its global footprint by perpetually hiring and acquiring. Its sprint to more than 1,200 employees has left the staff spilling out of its confines, so in September, it signed the biggest new office deal in the city in nearly five years.

“This is the largest, fastest growing, most profitable company with the most happy customers that Kleiner has ever invested in,” said John Doerr, the legendary partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of a handful of venture capital firms that have plugged some $360 million into Zynga.

Doerr knows a little something about fast-growing companies, having backed Google and Amazon.com.
The trip to prosperity

So how did a less than 4-year-old company surpass the value of EA and outpace the early growth of the Web’s giants? It depends on whom you ask.

Zynga was one of the first to pounce on the opportunity for gaming on social networks, recognizing a chance to transport something closer to the traditional model of games — friends playing Trivial Pursuit together in the living room – to the Web.

“We wanted to put the games in a place where people go, but also, make it additive to this social cocktail party that they’re already in,” said Pincus, who previously founded Freeloader, Support.com and Tribe.net.

He also suspected the most engaged users would be willing to pay for virtual goods like coins, tractors or weapons that allowed them to more rapidly advance or “level up” in the games, or simply enjoy them more.

He was right.

The company launched its first game, Texas Hold’Em Poker, in September 2007, and became profitable the same month. It unveiled Mafia Wars the following summer, which catapulted Zynga to the top developer spot on Facebook with more than 40  million monthly users.
Marketing and motivation

Pincus and other executives say they outmaneuvered the marketplace by designing better games, adjusting them based on how people were actually playing, and spending heavily on technology, customer service and marketing.

And there are generous rewards along the way for successful workers, like the chance to spin around in a Lamborghini for a few days or indulge in paid weekend trips to Las Vegas.
A darker view

But some believe Zynga’s success has less to do with prescience or culture than a willingness to spam social network users, manipulate players and copy games.

FarmVille looked remarkably similar to an earlier game called Farm Town, and Mafia Wars closely followed another Facebook game called Mob Wars.

Bing Gordon, a Zynga board member and former Electronic Arts executive, responded that some amount of emulation is commonplace in the video game world.

But the creator of Mob Wars considered the similarities egregious enough to file a copyright lawsuit against Zynga. The parties reportedly settled for an undisclosed amount.

“That’s their entire philosophy: Farmville is Farm Town,” said Gregory Wild-Smith, formerly a senior engineer at Zynga who now works for a competitor. “Zynga says, ‘This seems to work. We can tweak it about 10 ways and make it better.’”

Better, in this context, means more profitable. By doing deep analysis of the games, the company figured out the precise points when players would be most likely to spend money, he said.
Growing in other ways

The question is: Is Zynga a real business now? Amid its rapid growth, has the company also grown up?

In October 2009, it launched Zynga.org, a nonprofit arm that encourages players to purchase “social goods” that benefit earthquake victims in Haiti.

This June, the company launched FrontierVille, which some have called its first original game. It features far more sophisticated graphics and game mechanics than past Zynga products.

Meanwhile, it is steadily expanding its distribution, rolling out mobile versions of its games for smart phones, striking deals with Yahoo and reportedly pursuing a similar partnership with Google.(Source:chron)


上一篇:

下一篇: