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Building Social Success: Zynga's Perspective

November 4, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

People have said that they produce about 20 percent of the content they're expecting to produce during their game's lifespan up front. Would you say that that's typical of Zynga?

HD: We don't have a ratio that we go by. Moreso, we try to keep fresh content continually going. We plan out on a roadmap cycle that's several months out.

You continuously look at that roadmap? Is there a planned obsolescence or a transition?

HD: I think it's too new to have that. The phenomenon is just too...

Is that something you're anticipating?

HD: I don't know. It's that slide rule concept I was talking about. There's going to be more traffic. There's going to be more people that come in the door, and people are going to pick back up experiences. I do it all the time.

I actually referenced an old game that I used to play the other day, and I was like, "Oh, I'm going to go back and play that game." And lo and behold, it was like, "Why did I ever leave it?" It's just like when you go back and pick up your old console stuff.

Something that Playfish alluded to the other day is that they see a potential coming marketing war. That might be the next step of the evolution. You talked about your networks being your strength and getting new users in, but marketing could be the next step that's relevant. So if people start spending on marketing, it might create a console war -- like an arms race, a Sony and Microsoft situation.

HD: Well, we market it as it is today. We buy advertising and seed installs for sure. We just have the good fortune of having this network thing now. But initially, we did a ton of marketing, and they don't do any, in fact, or very little. I think they just started rolling it out. It will be interesting to see where they go with it. A marketing war is a marketing war.

Do you see that being potentially important?

HD: Well, we still do marketing. But we've also gotten to a scale where that marketing... Actually, I heard some recent analysis around this saying that marketing doesn't necessarily make sense, unless you've got scale. Because you're not going to have the ROI to be able to capitalize on that marketing scale.

You guys are generating millions or tens of millions of dollars. ?

HD: I don't talk about revenue.

I will say that I think you guys do millions of dollars in revenue. Do you see a time where something like a commercial during American Idol could be viable for you guys? That kind of marketing.

HD: You mean, from a financial perspective, could it be done? I suppose, sure. If we raised money, we could go buy a Super Bowl commercial or something. But similarly, is it going to be effective? I don't think so. It wouldn't be a sensible use of the money.

That's my question. Do you think it's effective?

HD: Television advertising?

Broad audience targeting in the mainstream.

HD: Are people going to Facebook Magazine to go read about upcoming social trends?

Absolutely not.

HD: I don't think there's even a potential vehicle for it, outside of directly on the social network.

You guys aren't totally married to Facebook either, are you?

HD: We support MySpace, Bebo, and Sonico. We were supporting Hi5. We're pretty much all over the place.

You're not supporting Hi5 anymore?

HD: We recently... we actually have two games there still.

CN: Do you see social networking consolidation potentially?

HD: I think we'll see some degree of consolidation there. We're definitely seeing some. Certain social networks see traffic to other social networks. We see growth in different regions. It all depends on the area. Orkut is growing like crazy in India. It depends on what the flavor of the week is.

That's the question. Facebook's business model, as I understand it, is predicated on the assumption that if they reach a certain user target, they will become de facto. Do you see the market like that?

HD: I think very highly of Facebook's capabilities, let's just say that. It's along the lines of "Good design wins." When I think about the difference between some of the choices that other social networks are making and Facebook is making, they provide a great product.

Whether or not that speaks to every culture, I don't know, and I think that's going to be the distinctive point. Orkut also provides a great product, and it seems to speak more to a different demographic.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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