Interview

"NaturalMotion deal isn't symbolic. It's an accelerator for Zynga."

COO Clive Downie predicts 50% of 2014 revenue will be from mobile

"NaturalMotion deal isn't symbolic. It's an accelerator for Zynga."

Surprisingly, given its headline-busting $527 million acquisition, Zynga's COO Clive Downie doesn't want to talk about the NaturalMotion deal.

At least, not first.

The ex-DeNA West CEO has been at Zynga for three months now, and so he wants to set the wider scene.

"We've been really busy evaluating the organisation," he explains of what the relatively new management team - ex-EAer Don Mattrick has been onboard as Zynga CEO for seven months - has been doing.

"Our goal is to be the #1 social gaming company globally and to do that we're looking to grow and sustain our core audience, as well as creating new hits," he says.

Leaner and meaner

That's the context for the announcement that Zynga continues to cut its headcount - another 314 jobs lost, that's on top of the 520 sacked in June 2013.

"We've driving efficiencies. We need the right base in terms of our size, organisational structure and skills," Downie says.

"Our teams will be more focused on content and be more agile."

As he explains it, this base is as important as the NaturalMotion deal as Zynga looks to "grow and sustain" (a phrase he uses multiple times) existing products.

"Our casino games increased their sales this quarter for the first time in 18 months. Words with Friends had its biggest quarter ever and we're bringing FarmVille to mobile for the first time in Q2," Downie says, highlighting that the company's existing IP can be refreshed and remain successful.

Equally, he explains that Zynga has a robust product pipeline for 2014, with 75 percent of new IP being "mobile first".

"We expect 50 percent of our revenue to be from mobile in 2014," Downie predicts.

Buying maturity

But, finally to the NaturalMotion deal.

As I've argued, the real significance of the deal is its symbolism in terms of the new management demonstrating to investors how it will turn Zynga around.

After all, Zynga's spending around 25 percent of its cash reserves on a likely inflated valued deal that - as with so many in this space - demonstrates the buyer is more desperate buy than the seller is to sell.

Of course, Downie is having none of that talk.

"It's not a symbolic move. This is a business-lead move. It's an accelerator," he counter-argues.

"NaturalMotion is a decade-old company with two category hits," he adds, referring to racing (CSR Racing) and character or people simulation (Clumsy Ninja).

"We're buying maturity and technology. That's unusual in this space."

In terms of the future, it will remain business-as-usual for NaturalMotion.

"Their office locations and their staff will stay focused on making great games and delighting consumers," Downie says.

"They have an amazing team and culture and it's our job to nurture it and give them anything they need to amplify their incredible efforts.

"They will also retain their name and publish games under the NaturalMotion brand as well as continuing to license their cutting edge technology to top creative partners around the world."


Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

Comments

No comments
View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies