在2011年的Dice Summit上，700位游戏设计师及其他业内杰出人士听到的是关于《FarmVille》和《愤怒的小鸟》之类的作品如何瓦解传统游戏领域的公开谈论。Zynga派出的代表是Bruce Shelley，他是曾制作出《Age of Empires》等作品的著名设计师，现在是Zynga的咨询顾问。
Blizzard Entertainment主管Mike Morhaime表示，他会玩《Words With Friends》（这是款类似Scrabble的iPhone文字游戏），这样他就能够同老朋友保持联系。
EA BioWare部门的联合创始人Greg Zeschuk表示，他会把其他人拉到自己办公室，向他们展示Facebook游戏《CityVille》，然后说，“过来，来看看未来游戏的样子”。他表示，游戏设计师如今能够凭借这些通俗易懂、便于操作的游戏快速覆盖众多用户。
现已倒闭的Ensemble Studios的联合创始人及《Age of Empires》设计师Bruce Shelley非常着迷于Zynga的《FrontierVille》（由其好友Brian Reynolds制作，他是游戏领域的元老），决定也涉足Facebook游戏开发。
峰会上，Bing Gordon获得电子游戏领域的最高荣誉。他凭借自己在游戏领域的25年投入获得Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences颁发的“终身成就奖”。Gordon是EA的早期员工，担任公司首席创意总监。他本可以在于EA任职25年后退休，但作为Kleiner Perkins合伙人，他雄心勃勃。他投资Ngmoco（后来以4.03亿美元售出的手机游戏公司）和Zynga。Gordon的奖项不仅是对他过去的认可，也是对他当前成就的肯定。这意味着Zynga、Mark Pincus和社交游戏如今都在游戏领域占有一席之地。
在隔天的演讲中，Gordon告诉Dice观众，Zynga着眼于更广泛的体验含义。早在2004年，EA就发现公司游戏所获得的体验时间超过电影。EA《Club Pogo》2004年的体验时间多达2.25亿小时，而《Madden NFL》只有1.8亿小时，《光晕 2》只有1.5亿小时，就连当时最热门的电影《怪物史莱克 2》也只有1.26亿小时。在Gordon看来，游戏设计非常强大，将超越游戏领域的界限。他将此称作“一切事物的电子游戏化”。游戏设计师的想法是深入非游戏网站，获取更多用户。社交软件重新改造所有内容，从企业学习到教育。尽管他推崇Zynga游戏，但他还是认为“《魔兽世界》是新托尔斯泰”，以此表示对硬核游戏的尊重。
观众倾听Gordon间或的闲聊，这汇集掌机和社交领域的经验积累。他是行业的桥梁。他让Zynga脱离被嘲笑的境地。UBM Techweb Game Group执行副总裁Simon Carless表示，“现在的情况要比过去缓和很多。社交开发商运用更多游戏设计理念，他们的游戏比以往更富趣味。硬核游戏开发商如今正在学习如何创造更具社交性的体验。”
多年来，Zynga出现众多Pincus的接班人。Bing Gordon给他提供建议，但公司还有Vishal Makhijani之类的运营总监。前MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta，同时是Zynga天使投资人，于2010年初加入公司。他是公司执行副总裁，主要负责营收策略、公司发展、国际扩张和品牌方面。
但2011年6月3日，Zynga聘请前EA第二大决策者John Schappert，担任公司首席运营官。Schappert此举清楚说明（同其前辈John Pleasants 2009年转投Playdom一样），社交和休闲游戏是电子游戏领域的一股巨浪。行业元老如今更愿意游走在此浪潮的前沿。
Schappert在EA任职很久，起初只是游戏程序员，1994年他创建自己的游戏工作室Tiburon，其团队替EA制作《Madden NFL》，后来EA于1994年收购Tiburon。Schappert从毫不起眼的角色慢慢变成公司第二主要决策人，但他2007年跳槽加入微软，担任Xbox Live在线游戏业务的主管。他在Pleasants离开EA转投Playdom后，重返公司。在EA，Schappert促使公司将扩张方向转至数字游戏领域，同Zynga进行竞争。到2012年3月，公司的数字游戏收入有望增至8.33亿美元。
Pincus终于找到自己在Zynga的接班人，此管理人员也是投资者非常信任的电子游戏领域专家。Van Natta成为公司商务总监，但他最终辞去自己在Zynga的职务。他依然是公司董事会成员，但Schappert的加入令Van Natta显得有些多余。
Schappert的加入伴随若干重要事件，这些意味着Zynga的成熟。Zynga起诉巴西重要社交游戏公司Vostu抄袭公司作品。Zynga还推出《Empires & Allies》，这是公司的首款战斗社交游戏，由制作《Command & Conquer》系列的EA元老完成。《Empires & Allies》发展很快，给以卡通为主的社交游戏市场添加新类型，Zynga意图覆盖各种题材。很快，类似于《Pioneer Trail》、《Adventure World》的其他游戏都将诞生。似乎确保公司能够顺利进行首次公开募股的所有必要工作都已准备就绪。
被问及如何看待有关Zynga估值时，PopCap CEO Dave Roberts表示，“大家要谨慎看待基于二级市场的估值。我并不是说Zynga不是颇具价值的公司，事实上我觉得公司价值很高。但没有人会相信这是合理市场估值。同样当少量普通股由其他公司掌握时，你也要非常小心。假如若微软在某项目中投资5000万美元，他们丝毫都不会在意，因为这对他们来说只是小数目。但这并不意味着公司其余资产就价值很高。我觉得只有等Zynga真正上市，我们才能知晓其真实价值。”
据《纽约时报》报道，Pincus据传曾试图以9.5亿美元现金收购PopCap Games。但后来PopCa听说Zynga有增税回收记录，还取消股票回馈奖励，且公司内部存在激烈斗争，于是决定回绝Zynga的要约。相反，PopCa接受EA 7.5亿美元现金和股票（以及5.5亿美元的追加款项）的要约。
PopCap联合创始人John Vechey曾在访谈中表示，EA就像场精彩的比赛，因为公司CEO John Riccitiello在游戏领域知识渊博，清楚PopCap擅长什么。EAi（游戏邦注：EA的手机和休闲游戏工作室）主管Barry Cottle表示，PopCap是在Facebook和手机领域发展较快的休闲游戏公司之一。公司每年创收1亿多美元，且以30%的速度发展。PopCap首席执行官Dave Roberts表示，《宝石迷阵》的销售额占公司总营收的40%，另外有20%的收入来自《植物大战僵尸》。但公司诞生于2000年，早于社交游戏时代，按资历来算，应该是PopCap收购Zynga才对。
此时，EA有款巨作《模拟人生》（这款游戏在PC和掌机平台售出1.4亿份）推出Facebook版本《The Sims Social》。这款热门游戏由Playfish制作，此社交游戏公司2009年被EA以至少3亿美元的价格收购。就Zynga在此社交平台的主导地位来看，这是非常惊人的反击。
据社交游戏网络Raptr基于平台1000万用户所做调查显示，很多《The Sims Social》用户都来自Zynga游戏。EA自己的社交游戏及《模拟人生 3》用户只占《The Sims Social》总玩家的15%。而Zynga玩家则占这款游戏玩家总量的50%。
9月12日，《The Sims Social》的用户数量超过《FarmVille》。到10月12日，《The Sims Social》成为Facebook排名第二的游戏，MAU达6600万（游戏邦注：而《CityVille》有7600万）。若这款游戏有近一半玩家来自Zynga，那么就有3300万Zynga用户发生“叛变”。当然不是所有Zynga玩家都是在放弃Zynga游戏的前提下选择《The Sims Social》。但《CityVille》玩家确实已由原本的1亿人跌至当前水平。
EA高管Jeff Brown笑称，“《The Sims Social》证明这些玩家是能够通过争取获得的，若他们会发生转移，我们就有办法获得他们。”
就目前运作情况来看，《The Sims Social》显然无法追上《CityVille》。由于《The Sims Social》发展速度的下滑，及Zynga投入额外营销资本，《CityVille》又再次呈现发展势头。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，拒绝任何不保留版权的转载，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
How Zynga grew from gaming outcast to $9 billion social game powerhouse
By Dean Takahashi
Gold Rush or bubble?
In January 2011, Zynga privately obtained a valuation of its company. The third party evaluation firm said that Zynga was now worth $4.98 billion. As the economy improved and the value of both Facebook and Groupon kept going up. Zynga also benefited from a period of froth, as investors were looking for a way to cash in on the Facebook phenomenon. Only a few investors could actually invest in Facebook, but the demand for shares was rising.
On Feb. 13, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that Zynga was raising $250 million in a round of funding that valued the company at $7 billion to $9 billion. It was a lot more than the secondary market valuation of $5 billion and it showed that investors were still excited about investing in social games and anything related to Facebook. At the time, Zynga was still riding high on CityVille and it had 275.8 million monthly active users.
EA’s value was around $6 billion. The comparison between the valuations was crazy. EA’s projected revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, was expected to be as high as $3.7 billion (non-GAAP). For calendar 2010, Activision Blizzard’s revenues were $4.8 billion (non-GAAP). EA and Activision both had more than 7,000 employees. Both were profitable on a non-GAAP basis.
Everyone had an inflated belief about Zynga’s value. Zynga’s revenues in 2010 were estimated to be $850 million, with a profit of $400 million, according to confidential sources cited in the Wall Street Journal. (Actual revenues, revealed later in Zynga’s IPO filings, were $597 million and net income was $90 million). The company had more than 1,500 employees and it had been buying a game studio once a month. By comparison, EA said it was on track to hit digital revenues of $750 million in the fiscal year that ends March 31.
Back in October, Zynga’s value was a mere $5.27 billion, according to limited trading on secondary markets, where employees and other shareholders were allowed to sell their stock to well-heeled investors. At that point, its value surpassed EA’s. Bubble-conscious observers asked: what did Zynga do to double its market value in a little more than three months?
Zynga was trading at more than 11 times 2010 revenue. Activision Blizzard was trading at around 2.7 times 2010 revenue, and EA was somewhere around 1.7 times revenue. Zynga was most likely being valued on the basis of its potential revenues and earnings; since it was growing at a faster rate, investors were naturally going to value it higher. And Zynga was clearly part of the rarefied social media technology club that also includes Facebook, whose value soared to $50 billion in a recent funding; Groupon, valued at more than $6 billion; LinkedIn, which is preparing to go public; and Twitter, valued at $8 billion to $10 billion.
Zynga attracted enormous investor interest since it cracked the free-to-play gaming model, where the games are free but players pay for virtual goods. Asian game companies had done that as well and it was worth noting that Tencent’s value was around $46 billion on the Chinese stock market. Most of China’s online game companies, however, were valued at under $4 billion.
People could argue that Zynga’s value isn’t real, since it was in the midst of an investment bubble, and it is bound to deflate. But traditional game companies had to realize that Zynga could use its valuation to buy assets with real value. Zynga was buying a small game studio every month, but it had built enough of a cash hoard to buy a traditional game maker. It could invest enough money in new games where it would become a threat to be reckoned with. That was how bubble value could turn into real value.
Lots of big game brands were going to attack Zynga’s core market of Facebook games during 2011. But it was likely going be very hard to dislodge Zynga, which had moved into a kind of self-perpetuating state. Zynga had to spend a lot of money on marketing to stay there, but as long as it had the cash, and could get more of it, Zynga was very formidable on Facebook. Zynga could also point to mobile as the next great market for expansion.
At the time, no one got the details on Zynga’s investment round exactly right. But Zynga later said that it raised $490 million in February. The large round served Zynga’s purposes of postponing an IPO until it could accomplish goals such as regular profitability, diversification beyond Facebook, mobile expansion, and international expansion. All of those goals would help Zynga produce earnings that could keep investors from getting spooked. Previously, Zynga had raised around $360 million, so the new round gave Zynga more cash than the company had raised to date.
By March, Zynga’s valuation was $10 billion. By late May, Zynga’s valuation was determined to be $13.98 billion. At that point, rumors that Zynga would go public started building. Some backlash had begun to build that no company could create value at such a rate, and that this was part of another Silicon Valley bubble.
Recognition at last
At the Dice Summit in 2011, 700 game designers and other elite members of the industry listened to an opening discussion about how games such as FarmVille and Angry Birds were disrupting the traditional game industry. Zynga was represented by Bruce Shelley, a famous game designer who had created titles such as Age of Empires and was now a consultant for Zynga.
Mike Morhaime, head of Blizzard Entertainment, said he plays Words With Friends, a Scrabble-like word game on the iPhone, so that he can connect with old friends.
Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of Electronic Arts’ BioWare division, said he pulled someone into his office to show off CityVille on Facebook. “Come take a look at the future of games,” he said. He said game designers can now reach so many users so fast with games that are accessible and easy to play. At the time, CityVille had around 100 million users.
“We have never had a chance to reach so many people so fast with something so easy to play,” Zeschuk said.
Bruce Shelley, co-founder of the now-defunct Ensemble Studios and maker of Age of Empires, was so enthralled with Zynga’s FrontierVille (made by his friend and game veteran Brian Reynolds) that he decided to start work on Facebook games himself.
“This [game] had engagement,” said Shelley. “It was a real game. It meant that game design had been brought to a new space where it had never reached before.”
At the summit, Bing Gordon received one of the highest honors in the video game industry. He received the lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences for his work in the game industry over 25-plus years. Gordon was an early employee and chief creative officer at Electronic Arts. He could have retired after his 25 years at EA. But as a partner at Kleiner Perkins, he had scored big. He had funded both Ngmoco, the mobile game company that was sold for $403 million, and Zynga. Gordon’s award was not only recognition of his past, but also his current successes. And that meant that Zynga, Mark Pincus, and social games now had a place in the game industry.
Rich Hilleman, chief creative director at Electronic Arts, said that Bing’s comments often have to be translated from “Binglish.” But Hilleman, game designer Will Wright, and others said that Gordon was frequently brilliant (with one of them saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” In the video celebrating Bing, Mark Pincus said, “The scariest thing about Bing is that he is usually right.”
Gordon wrote a poem called the Golden Age of Gaming, which celebrated the industry’s ability to reinvent itself. Gordon thanked many of his colleagues for “giving me the chance to reinvent myself.” He added, “Twenty five years later, we are all an overnight success.” One of the gems from the poem: “Today our industry is experiencing reframing; but recognize this: we are all in the golden age of gaming.”
It certainly was a Golden Age for Bing, and for Zynga.
There was still some lingering tension and doubt. Jade Raymond, a celebrated game developer at Ubisoft, said she found it depressing that people were spending less time with the hardcore console games that her company had made. However, most game companies were furiously creating digital gaming businesses in social and mobile games. Zynga had changed the whole industry.
In a lecture the next day, Gordon told the Dice audience that Zynga was focused on the broader topic of play. As far back as 2004, Electronic Arts had noticed that its games were consuming more time than movies. EA’s Club Pogo accounted for 225 million hours of play in 2004, compared to 180 million for Madden NFL, 150 million for Halo 2, and 126 million hours for the most popular movie, Shrek 2. Gordon believed that game design was so powerful that it was going to spill beyond the borders of the game industry. He called it the “videogamification of everything.” The thinking of game designers was spreading into non-game web sites that wanted to attract more people. Social software was remaking of everything, from corporate learning to education. And while he touted Zynga’s games, he also said, “World of Warcraft is the new Tolstoy,” in a nod to hardcore games.
The audience listened to Gordon’s sometimes rambling talk, which brought together experience from both the console side and social. He was a bridge between the industries. He had helped bring Zynga a long way from its days of ridicule. Simon Carless, executive vice president of the UBM Techweb Game Group (which puts on the Game Developers Conference), said, “There’s a lot less tension than there used to be. The social developers are using more game design concepts, and their games are more fun than they used to be. And the core game developers are learning how to create more social experiences.”
Google courts Zynga with Google+
Google quietly gave Zynga more than $100 million in venture funding in a round that was never announced. One of the reasons was that Zynga didn’t want to cause an open rift with Facebook. But Google was clearly aiming at driving a wedge between the two partners as it prepared to launch its own social network. After much preparation and media speculation, Google finally unveiled Google+ on June 28, 2011. After two weeks, the service hit 10 million users; after four weeks, it hit 25 million. By October 2011, it hit 40 million users.
The company slowly doled out invitations so that it could add features and maintain good service. On Aug. 11, the company opened the service up to games. Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering, said that the experiences that people share together are just as important as relationships, so the goal of Google+ games was to make online games as fun and meaningful as playing in real life. That meant Google was going to put a premium on social sharing in games, which would be built by third parties.
In a little jab at the spam-like nature of game notices on Facebook, Gundotra said that “Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t.” In other words, Google designed its game business so that it wouldn’t spam non-gamers.
It launched 16 titles, including Zynga Poker. Once again, Zynga was trying to diversify away from Facebook. And Google looked like it was going to be a major platform that could grow as large as Facebook and even steal some users away from it.
There was a reason why Google seemed like it was in a big rush to get games up and running on its Google+ social network. That’s because games were the way that Google would put financial pressure on Facebook.
Joseph Ranzenbach, vice president of operations at PrivCo, a New York company that evaluates financial data for private companies, had some interesting analysis of the Facebook-Google fight. He said that Google+ games could badly damage a major source of revenue for Facebook.
That’s because Google started by only taking a 5 percent cut of virtual goods transactions from third-party game makers, while Facebook was taking 30 percent. If developers sell virtual goods for a game on Facebook, they have to use Facebook Credits and Facebook gets to keep 30 percent of every transaction. That has made a number of developers angry.
PrivCo calculated that roughly two-thirds of Facebook’s revenues come from advertising, while the remaining third came from Facebook Credits. So Google+ games was attacking a third of Facebook’s revenues. Of course, lots of Facebook’s ads were placed on pages where users are playing games, so a significant chunk of the ad revenue was related to games as well.
Google found a way to attack Facebook, and Zynga was an important piece of the puzzle in making it happen. In the future, Zynga might not have to fret so much about being dependent on Facebook. With Google+ around, Zynga could be a kingmaker among the social platforms.
Finding a replacement
Zynga became a place of rapid advancement, with a chance to get promotions at an unbelievable pace. One of Mark Pincus’s rules was that employees should try to find their own replacements. The rule applied even to him.
Zynga had a number of possible successors to Pincus over the years. Bing Gordon gave him advice, but there were operations chiefs such as Vishal Makhijani. Owen Van Natta, the former CEO of MySpace and an angel investor in Zynga, joined the company in early 2010. He was an executive vice president in charge of running revenue strategy, corporate development, international expansion and brand.
But on June 3, 2011, Zynga hired John Schappert, the former No. 2 executive at Electronic Arts, as chief operating officer. Schappert’s move signaled loud and clear, like his predecessor John Pleasants’ move to join Playdom in 2009, that social and casual games were a giant wave in video games. And the veterans of the industry were now more than willing to surf on the leading edge of that wave.
Schappert had a long history at EA, starting as a game programmer and founder of the Tiburon game studio in 1994. His team made Madden NFL sports games for EA and EA bought Tiburon in 1994. Schappert rose through the ranks to take the No. 2 job, but jumped ship in 2007 to join Microsoft as head of its Xbox Live online gaming business. He rejoined EA as Pleasants — who EA made clear was asked to leave — departed for Playdom. At EA, Schappert helped steer the company’s expansion into digital games, in competition with Zynga. That business was on track to generate $833 million in digital game revenues for EA in the year ending March 31, 2012.
At Zynga, Pincus had finally found his future replacement and also brought aboard an executive that investors would have faith in as an expert in the video game industry. Van Natta became chief business officer and was eventually moved out of his executive job at Zynga. He stayed on as a board member, but seemed redundant after Schappert came on board.
Clearly, the hand of Bing Gordon, Zynga’s “consigliere,” seemed apparent in the recruitment. Schappert’s job was to bring order to the house, which had been expanding at a rate of an acquisition per month. He also had to preside over a rapid expansion of game launches as those teams started finishing games they had started under Zynga’s ownership. Schappert brought more game cred to Zynga, and that meant he was good for a potential IPO. Those potential investors who weren’t comfortable with Pincus were likely to be very comfortable with Schappert. And while there was a delay between the announcement of Schappert’s departure and his arrival at Zynga, EA didn’t sue Zynga for hiring Schappert.
Schappert’s hiring was marked by a couple of other events that signaled Zynga’s maturity. The company sued Vostu, a leader in social games in Brazil, for copying Zynga games. And Zynga also launched Empires & Allies, the company’s first combat social game made by for EA veterans who created the Command & Conquer series. Empires & Allies grew quickly and it filled another genre in the cartoon-oriented social game market that Zynga was starting to cover from all angles. Soon, other games like Pioneer Trail and Adventure World would arrive. It seemed that everything necessary for a good initial public offering had fallen into place.
The EA empire strikes back
During the summer, Zynga was courting a big prize. PopCap Games, the maker of outstanding casual game titles such as Bejeweled and Plants vs Zombies, was openly exploring its own initial public offering. PopCap’s employees had waited a long time for some kind of payoff, and it was finally coming near. Zynga wanted to buy PopCap and it was willing to part with almost all of its cash — or at least take out a huge line of credit — to do the deal.
Asked what he thought of Zynga’s purported value, PopCap CEO Dave Roberts told VentureBeat, “One has to be careful about believing valuations based on the secondary market. I am not saying Zynga is not valuable. I think it is a very valuable company. Nobody believes that that really is an appropriate market evaluation. And likewise you have to be careful when small pieces of equity are raised by companies. If Microsoft invests $50 million in something, they don’t care about the valuation because it’s a small amount of money to them. That doesn’t mean the rest of that company is worth a lot. I don’t think we’ll ever know Zynga’s true value until it is public. The same is true for PopCap.”
Then, on July 12, EA snatched PopCap away. It agreed to pay $750 million in cash and stock, as well as a potential bonus of $550 million if goals were met.
The New York Times said that Pincus reportedly offered PopCap Games a total of $950 million in cash to buy the Seattle-based casual game maker. But after hearing about the company’s history of “clawbacks,” or rescinding share awards, and fierce internal fights, PopCap decided against it. Instead, the company agreed to take a $750 million offer in cash and stock (plus a $550 million possible bonus) from EA, the Times said.
That explanation was an odd one, given the rescinding of share awards was a story that broke in November 2011, many months after the PopCap deal was announced. And on its face, the offer from EA looked a lot more attractive than Zynga’s offer. Still, when EA snared PopCap and Zynga didn’t, it started to make people wonder. Why wouldn’t a company like PopCap want to hitch its fate to a winner like Zynga? Was there something under the hood that didn’t look right? Pincus had indeed taken back stock options from some early Zynga employees.
The Times also said that three unnamed sources said that Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, walked away from a Zynga acquisition offer worth $2.25 billion in cash and stock. Rovio made it clear that it wanted to go public. Zynga had been painted as walking on water. Was it now falling back down to Earth?
PopCap cofounder John Vechey said in an interview with VentureBeat that Electronic Arts felt like a great match because John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, was very knowledgeable about games and understood what PopCap was good at. Barry Cottle, head of EAi, the company’s mobile and casual game studio, said PopCap was one of the dominant companies in casual games with fast growth on both Facebook and mobile games. The company made more than $100 million in revenues a year and was growing at a 30 percent rate. Sales of Bejeweled made up about 40 percent of its revenues, and about 20 percent came from Plants vs Zombies, PopCap chief executive Dave Roberts told VentureBeat. But the company was born in 2000, long before the era of social gaming. If there were any justice in the world, PopCap should have been in a position to buy Zynga.
Almost on cue, just as Zynga seemed to lock up the Facebook market, it took a broadside from EA. Almost as revenge for stealing Schappert, EA launched its life simulation game on Aug. 9, 2011.
EA had the massive franchise of The Sims, which had sold more than 140 million copies on the PC and the consoles, to fuel the growth of The Sims Social on Facebook. The game was the first massive hit from Playfish, the social game company that EA bought for at least $300 million in 2009. It was a surprise comeback, given Zynga’s dominance on the social network.
Raptr, the social network for gamers, revealed that an analysis of its 10 million users that many of The Sims Social users — millions upon millions of them — had come from Zynga. EA’s own social games and The Sims 3 accounted for only 15 percent of the total players of The Sims Social. Zynga players, on the other hand, account for 50 percent of all of The Sims Social players.
On Sept. 12, the Sims Social’s numbers exceeded FarmVille’s. By Oct. 12, The Sims Social became the No. 2 game on Facebook with 66 million monthly active players, compared to 76 million for CityVille, according to AppData. If roughly half of those players came from Zynga, that was about 33 million users who had defected. Of course, not every single one of the Zynga players quit playing a Zynga game in order to play The Sims Social. But CityVille dropped from more than 100 million players.
EA’s success reminded everybody about what Zynga itself acknowledged as a risk factor in its IPO filing: The barriers to entry are low in social games, and the competition is intense.
“The Sims Social proved they can bleed, and if they can bleed, we can kill them,” said Jeff Brown, vice president of corporation communications at EA, laughing.
But by the end of its run, it was clear that The Sims Social wasn’t going to catch CityVille. The rate of growth fell off and, with extra marketing spending by Zynga, CityVille started to grow again.（Source：venturebeat）