Zynga shows its cards, adds four more games to its platform

While Zynga is hammered in the stock market and losing to player fatigue, the company cultivates loyal developer partnerships in an effort to boost content.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Rocket Play's Sports Casino, one of four new games that have been launched on Zynga's gaming platform. Screenshot by Donna Tam/CNET

Zynga unveiled four new games at a press event tonight designed to show developers why they should be turning to its newly launched gaming platform.

While Zynga has been hammered by its poor earnings, slumping stock prices, reported player burnout, and executives jumping ship, the company has been focusing all its attention on its new developer partners.

The developers weren't shy about their gratitude at the press event.

Matthew Cullen, president of RocketPlay -- the company that designed Sports Casino, a social sports-betting game that is based on real-time sports events -- said the company would have had to spend 60 percent to 70 percent of its funding to go out and get players if it weren't for Zynga. He wouldn't say how much Zynga makes off of the company in exchange for its playerbase and expertise, but he said it was much lower.

"You flip the switch and there's 3 million people on your doorstep," he said.

A dozen of these partners showcased their games. Aside from Sports Casino, the other three games that have gone live are Rubber Tacos, a bouncing puzzle game that is a cross between Cut the Rope and Angry Birds; Mini Putt Park, a miniature golf game; and Fashion Designer, in which players design their own clothes and then compete on the runway.

A panel featuring Zynga VP of Publishing Rob Dyer and VP of Mobile Publishing Ben Jones, and several developers, gave a clear message: developers enjoyed working with Zynga because the company paid attention but didn't try to take control.

Off stage, the developers were also on point, saying Zynga's reported woes don't scare them. The company still has a huge user base and years of experience as a social game developer -- an area many of the developers are trying out for the first time.

Of course, the fates of Zynga and the developers are now intertwined. If these games do well, it can only spell good things for Zynga, which has been hit hard by its dependance on Facebook and a weak mobile strategy. Zynga's stock continues to be just under $3 a share.

Zynga launched its platform six months ago, a way to wean itself off Facebook and establish itself as a publisher. Since then, the company had only launched its own games on the platform.

The other companies present tonight were CrayonPixel, Eruptive Games, JamRT, Fat Pebble, Mob Science, Portalarium, Row Sham Bow and Danke Games, and The Method.

The event also gave peeks of the games these companies are close to launching, including at least two role-playing games -- first-person games that place the users in a fictional storyline and often involves avoiding virtual death. Not necessarily what you would expect from fluffy Zynga land.

But, maybe the unexpected is exactly what Zynga needs.