Can Mattrick save a company that’s already halfway gone?

Ars Technica has some hit or miss gaming news writers. I mean, they’re all credible folks who write for a living, I imagine, but when you decide that Green Day is an acceptable video game soundtrack alternative (or really, an acceptable anything), you and your colleagues are immediately relegated to the shame corner. You might end up in this shame corner for days, weeks or months—but publications can only leave the corner behind once they publish something redeemable.

ars technica

In just one year, Zynga has lost nearly half of its daily active users — Zynga needs some good news, and fast: in its Tuesday quarterly earnings filling, the company reported that its daily active users rose from 27 million in the last quarter of 2013 to 28 million this quarter. But when compared to the first quarter of 2013, Zynga had 53 million daily active users—which means…

This particular article about the current state of affairs over at mobile/social game developer Zynga brings Ars collectively out of the corner, as far as I’m concerned. The headline is pretty damn convincing all on its own. Losing half of your Daily Active User number in just twelve months? I’m pretty sure that’s numbers we’ve only seen in instances where company’s once widely used products end up becoming irrelevant through disuse.

Don Mattrick used to be exclusively known for making the Xbox 360 into the powerhouse console that it was until the very end when developers outside of Japan finally figured out that the PlayStation 3 had legitimate value as a graphics pumping platform. Lately, that’s not the case at all. Mattrick’s jumping ship from Microsoft to take a speculative CEO/savior position over at Zynga has probably been the best move the man could’ve made after his absolute mishandling of the Xbox One hype machine. 1

I mean, I was about ready to completely ignore the PlayStation 4 and blindly spend $500 USD on launch day for the Xbox One. But I didn’t because doing so would have instantly labeled me a douche on top of already being labeled a console peasant (even if the latter is a label I wear with pride due to the fact that I am a bad(yes, the grammar is wrong there, but YOLO AMIRITE?)). Between Mattrick’s ill-advised public statements and his ill-intentioned crusade that ultimately tainted Microsoft’s trust with gamers in the console market, my decision to not purchase the Xbox One was a no-brainer.

And now, this guy is going to turn Zynga back into a success? A company that used to be called a success as a 53m DAU juggernaut through making addictive games that exploit a user’s connections on a certain social network to ripping off long-successful titles from other developers? One of the worst game developers ever? 2

For Zynga to get back into the good graces of any sort of gaming community, they’re going to have to start by disconnecting themselves from a certain social network completely and they’re going to have to shutter quite a few vectors for revenue from older, unpopular ripoff games that they keep alive while they try to create original intellectual property to profit from, instead.

Something tells me that’s probably not going to happen. I can’t really get my hopes up even if Farmville’s latest mobile iteration is getting some acclaim. 3

  1. One of the best collections of Mattrick quotes can be found in this roundup posted to MMGN.
  2. I think I can qualify this statement many different ways, but I’ll choose just to cite the negative reviews left by employees on Glassdoor.
  3. Kotaku: It’s FarmVille 2 Without All The Annoying Bits, And It’s Lovely

Here’s what I learned from CheckPoint S3E4.

I’m a little late with this post, as I’ve been busy trying to relearn everything I forgot about Linux server administration.

  • Graham and Kathleen are rightfully smug for the US-in-general forgetting Canada Day. Now, moving on…
  • Square Enix continues its string of out-of-touch decisions by deciding that, instead of developing a Final Fantasy VII remake with modern 3D technologies, its time would be better spent by making Cloud’s SOLDIER uniform a pre-order bonus for Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. But Graham has a point, nostalgia can make up for a lot of sales.
  • MSFT announced an algorithm for match-making that takes into account the ratings and reviews that other players leave about you using the Xbox Live match-making system. The more negative ratings you receive, the more likely you are to be paired up with players with negative ratings like yours. It sounds like a decent way to split up griefing and trolling users from those wanting to just play the game and do so without feeling the need to use racial slurs and so on. Graham’s remarks are right on; if the system works as intended, perhaps there’ll be a bit more self-reflection among the Xbox Live players.
  • Dwarf Fortress hitting version 1.0 in 2033? Half-Life 3 confirmed.
  • Ars Technica comes up with some great information about the prices of console systems at release versus prices adjusted for inflation. While the Xbox One’s launch price is roughly half a gas tank more expensive than the Xbox 360’s launch price adjusted for inflation, it’s important to note that it’s still a difference of half a gas tank. I don’t really consider myself a social being that drives errywhere all the time, but that’s still something to think about.
  • Douche AsstrickDon Mattrick left MSFT and joined Zynga. Going from being the boss of the division that believed that the Xbox 360 was the offline version of the Xbox One to being the boss of a company that preys on consumers’ wallets with pay-to-win games that are borderline addictive. But oh wait, that was Xbox news. And Kathleen got a Dwarf Fortress joke in that needles the Xbox brand again! HEYOOOOO
  • The way to get a game that glorifies drugs classified in Australia: find/replace drugs to vitamins.