Zynga CEO Mark Pincus: Don't get all aflutter about mobile

People still play casual games a lot when they're bored at work on their PCs. That's Zynga's market.

PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- At the D10 conference here, where the focus for most attendees seems to be the challenges and opportunities of the mobile markets, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus played down the space. "Let's not be too quick to jump on mobile," he said. "People still spend massive amounts of time on the PC at work ... and on boring conference calls."

He explained how the company treats its desktop and Web games, most of them connected to Facebook, compared with how it deals with the mobile platforms.

"We focus on reach, retention, and revenue," he said, adding that they start by looking at a 40/40/20 split. "Let's really solve for reach and retention," he said, "and bake revenues in." But as a market matures, "we move to an even split, 33/33/33."

Mark Pincus at D10 Rafe Needleman/CNET

He said the mature desktop and Web games get the even split, but that on mobile they're not focusing that much yet on revenues. "We're at that early stage, trying to build audiences," he said.

Games that work well on desktop also appear to work well on mobile, but the market for them is immature. "Our games that monetize better, like Dream Zoo, also monetize better on mobile. But the audiences are fragmented."

Zynga recently acquired the smash hit mobile game Draw Something, when it bought OMGPOP. The company has taken some heat for the declining user numbers since then. Monthly active users have fallen by nearly 12 percent to 248.4 million in the last 30 days, according to AppData. Pincus points out that the game "still has more traffic today than it did when we engaged to buy them," but when pressed, he said, "It's too early to say that the acquisition was successful. I'll tell you in a year."

But he did expand on why the company acquired OMGPOP: "They innovate on user-generated content. We didn't buy for the short term. We thought it'd be important in the long run... We built our company on franchises."

He said that extensions could be coming for Draw Something, like they have for Word With Friends, another Zynga acquisition. That game, he reminds, had less than 2 million daily active users when it was acquired. Today it's at the core of a franchise that includes other word games at Zynga.

 

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