When Zynga founder Mark Pincus returned to the CEO chair in April, taking the reins back from Don Mattrick after only 21 months, a shake-up of the company’s then-current strategy was inevitable. The details of that shake-up were revealed on a May 6th earnings call (the same call that informed us of CSR Racing 2), but if you’re a golf fan, there’s only one fact that really matters:
Zynga is walking away from their Tiger Woods deal without ever releasing a game.
It’s surprising — especially considering nobody else is making a Tiger Woods golf game nowadays — but when seen as part of the bigger picture, it’s a move that’s consistent with Pincus’ new approach. Zynga is focusing on just five genres going forward: Action Strategy, Social Casino, Invest & Express, Casual, and Racing. Sports games simply don’t fit into the new mold.
Along with having ended development on Tiger Woods Golf, Zynga has also ended development on NFL Showdown. We reached out to Zynga to confirm if the game would be removed from mobile storefronts before the start of the next season, but were simply referred back to Pincus’ statements from the earnings call.
After a brief experiment, Zynga is exiting the sports category altogether.
Sports games aren’t the only genre Zynga is shifting away from. Pincus also said that the company will be “reducing further investment in other non-strategic categories such as Runners.” That one’s particularly surprising, as from an outsider standpoint, their runner Looney Tunes Dash! seemed to be one of the company’s bigger hits in the last year.
Is trimming down their focus like this the right move for Zynga? It’s much too early to say for sure, but if the financial market is anything to go by, investors seem to like what they’re hearing. And it’s not like they’re the only company in this space to be streamlining their approach; after releasing 12 games in 2014, Kabam doesn’t plan to exceed four releases in the current calendar year.
Still, if you’re a Tiger Woods fan and a mobile gamer, it looks like you’ll have to wait a little longer for someone to pick up that license. In the meantime, at least there’s always EA’s King of the Course.