Interview Podcast - Zynga’s Yaron Leyvand on the secret to making a “forever franchise”

In the final podcast of 2024 the podcast team speak to Zynga's Yaron Leyvand about the company's incredible journey - from Farmville to forever franchises Podcast - Zynga’s Yaron Leyvand on the secret to making a “forever franchise”

When it comes to games, few companies have seen such a rollercoaster ride as Zynga. From the early days of Facebook gaming, to the company's entry into the mobile market, Zynga has established itself as a major player, with a deep understanding of the user.

However, the path to profitable growth is inevitably fraught with tough choices. Studios can net new audiences by pumping out new titles and features at the pace of change, or they can push the envelope (and extend the lifecycle of their legacy title) with content, live ops and real-life events. In Zynga's case, they can - and do - all of the above.

Yaron Leyvand, executive VP of mobile studios at Zynga, joins hosts Peggy Anne Salz and Brian Baglow to share pages from the playbook that keeps the games giant growing amidst industry downturns and transformations.

Leyvand recalls the milestones in the journey that brought Zynga from a small gaming company with a start on Facebook to a leader in casual gaming with over four billion downloads and 200 million+ monthly players worldwide.

He also delves into Zynga’s unique approach to M&A - which aims to bolster and support smaller studios and trust in the local talent and expertise of each developer. Don’t miss this info-dense episode as Leyvand describes how Zynga and Take-Two are shaking up the industry with their landmark collaboration.

What a way to end the year!

Peggy and Brian also announce the biggest celebration in history - the 10th anniversary of Pocket Gamer Connects, which starts celebrations at PGC London on January 22 to 23rd, 2024. We hope to see you there.


00:00 - The must-attend event of the year
03:09 - Introducing Yaron Leyvand
03:48 - Zynga's 2024 mentality
07:09 - Most innovative shift in puzzle games
11:43 - The secret to Zynga's success
14:46 - Zynga's acquisition approach
20:02 - The power of combining forces
25:37 - To license IP or not to license IP
27:56 - How to make a "forever franchise"
33:04 - Favourite games Q&A with Yaron Leyvand

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Managing Editor

Brian has been working in the games industry since the mid-1990s, when he joined the legendary studio DMA Design, as a writer on the original Grand Theft Auto. Since then he's worked with major publishers, founded his own digital agency, helped numerous startups with PR, marketing, communications, narrative design, branding and making money.

Back in 2004 Brian created the Scottish Games Network, the industry body for the country's videogames sector. He also lectures at Napier University on the transformative power of interactive media on the creative industries, is a board member of Creative Edinburgh, and helps to organise games, tech and creative industries events.

In his spare time he plays videogames and is usually, proudly, at least one generation behind the cutting edge consoles.