Given their recent display of copious spending, it’s no surprise that social games empire Zynga will stop at nothing in order to increase their company’s already enormous reach. Given their history of spending sprees and expansion over the past few years, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken them until now to begin to hint at expanding to the home console market.
In a recent interview, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus suggested that they were working on back-end technology that would allow them to transfer save states between multiple gaming platforms. Microsoft’s Xbox was mentioned specifically, which has led to speculation that Zynga integration with Xbox Live may soon be upon us. On one hand, it seems like this kind of natural expansion is a no-brainer. On the other, though, this concept doesn’t seem very natural or necessary.
For starters, this announcement seems to contradict the sound knowledge that Zynga developer Brian Reynolds presented last year: he believed that the Xbox demographic was “too small” for Zynga’s prominent Facebook and mobile reach. At just 30 million subscribers to Xbox Live, it’s hard to conceive that much of the hardcore gamer demographic would feel the urge to play casual social games.
Even if a hardcore gamer did want to dabble in a lighter experience (and we’re not saying they don’t!), couldn’t they just play it on their computer or mobile device? Despite the fact that in the interview Pincus suggests games could be “customized for the Xbox controller,” few of Zynga’s major properties seems like they would carry over well. A majority of their biggest games rely on point-and-click functionality best suited for a mouse or a touch screen. Control is the main reason that the real-time strategy genre will never blossom in the console market; it seems only natural that point-and-click social games would suffer under a controller as well.
Granted, if Zynga wants to gear future titles toward a larger cross-platform audience, they surely have the capital to invest in it. But with their current selection of top titles and the overall ease of their current platforms, it doesn’t seem like an Xbox-compatible Zynga library would change their bottom line much.