Zynga, the social-gaming giant (perhaps best known for it’s Facebook game Farmville), is laying off 520 employees and closing several of it’s offices including OMGPOP, the company Zynga bought just last year that brought us Draw Something (which I’ll admit to having some rather hilarious play sessions late at night with friends).
Zynga has a reputation that is less than favourable, with questionable business ethics (such as their tendency to copy successful games) and their focus on micro-transactions (something many gamers have a problem with- although in the social gaming sphere they are both necessary and make more sense- something I should maybe discuss in the future).
Still, even the most cynical among us should feel bad for the employees who have lost their jobs. The gaming industry has become increasingly volatile in recent years, with established and successful studios closing down and even long running publishers like THQ collapsing.
Zynga, who grew successful on web-based social gaming platforms like Facebook, is struggling to keep up with the shifting tide of social gamers towards handheld devices and Zynga’s competitors. These layoffs and closures are part of a strategy to refocus on said mobile devices.
The social gaming market is still young, having grown at an incredible pace with the prevalence of Facebook and smartphones. It is troubling to consider that even here the gaming industry is facing problems. It is hard to predict how things will evolve in the coming years, but hopefully we will see the industry as a whole stabilise.
I wish all the best for the employees who have been affected.