Zynga on the IPO offensive with 10 new projects

Zynga on the IPO offensive with 10 new projects

By Rob Crossley

October 12th 2011 at 6:55PM

VIDEO: CEO Mark Pincus draws new roadmap for the social game company

Zynga gave its ailing IPO bid a shot of adrenaline yesterday with a new content, platform and business strategy that could transform the social games titan.

The company’s San Francisco headquarters, opened for the first time to journalists including Develop, was the venue for a press conference that felt more like an E3 extravaganza than a briefing from a four year-old games developer.

CEO Mark Pincus took stage, as if by warning, to explain that Zynga was going to announce ten projects.

Top of the bill was Castleville, the latest in Zynga’s inimitably successful social series. Another was Hidden Chronicles, a social game that ventures into a new genre for the company. Third was the well-publicised Mafia Wars 2, otherwise described as Zynga’s first sequel.

David Ko, Zynga’s director mobile, took the stage to reveal a trio of HTML5 games that will be ported to the mobile Facebook platform.

Then Lo Toney, general manager of the Zynga Poker franchise, unveiled a new Casino portal that would incorporate its own games such as Zynga Bingo.

The company also spoke of its commitment to the new Google+ games platform, backing the Facebook rival with a new title Dream Zoo.

Zynga’s new COO John Schappert – who this year departed from his ‘second-in-command’ role at EA – took to the stage to unveil an entirely new venture.

“Today I'm excited to give you a sneak peak of Project Z,” he said.

Project Z is essentially Zynga’s own games portal, held off-site from Facebook.

Some Journalists and analysts said the move suggested a fracture had bee made between Zynga and Facebook, but the social games firm insisted the opposite. The Project Z website will only be accessible through connected Facebook accounts.

The onslaught of announcements was a painstakingly prepared attempt to rebuild excitement in and around Wall Street.

Earlier this year Zynga filed for an IPO, but its luck ran out as market turmoil gripped the US and Europe. Then last month the company’s halo slipped further, after announcing a 90 per cent nosedive in profits despite further revenue growth.

Zynga, which has delayed its IPO bid, had lost momentum since, with companies like EA appearing to be the fastest-growing heavyweight on Facebook.

But the ten announcements made this week goes some way in demonstrating where Zynga’s investments have gone. Castleville, quite unusually for a social network game, has been in development for a year at Zynga Dallas. A 75-piece orchestra and full choir was booked for the game’s score, raising the development costs even higher.

The company appears to be spreading its bets even wider as it embarks on what it calls ‘hyper-growth’. The phrase could be little more than executive jargon, but with Zynga’s extraordinary track-record for social success, ten new projects across several platforms may be enough to see the private games giant traded across Wall Street.

A video of Pincus’s keynote, published by Venturebeat, can be found below.