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.
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
- One of the best collections of Mattrick quotes can be found in this roundup posted to MMGN. ↩
- 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. ↩
- Kotaku: It’s FarmVille 2 Without All The Annoying Bits, And It’s Lovely ↩