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Zynga Inc (ZNGA): Where To Next?

Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s new Chief Executive Officer Don Mattrick has his work cut out for him. He left the profitable Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) where he headed up the Xbox division to come to Zynga, which is floundering to even stay afloat. In the investor call after the gaming company’s last earnings report, Mattrick expressed a need for Zynga to get back to basics.

Zynga abandons bid for online gambling in the U.S.

Last week Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) announced that it decided to forget about trying to pursue online gambling in the U.S. Shares of the company’s stock had been rallying upon the belief that online gambling could save it, so needless to say, investors weren’t thrilled when the company said it would quit trying to do it.

The gaming company said it was trying to refocus its efforts, most likely on the online games which made it a household name in the first place. But as CNN Money’s Julianne Pepitone reports, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s social games just aren’t performing as well as they once were. It just can’t seem to get players “excited about more than just virtual farms,” as Pepitone noted.

What’s Zynga up to now?

Farmville and Words with Friends were clear hits, but Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) hasn’t repeated those successes with any later titles. Even newer versions of Farmville haven’t performed as well as the original.  Last month Candy Crush Saga, made by the game maker King, overtook Farmville 2 as the most popular app. King’s games overall outperform Zynga’s games, in fact. AppData shows that King has the most active users and is the top app developer for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

Instead of trying to churn out new titles that are worthy of topping the gaming charts, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is now choosing to focus its efforts on protecting its trademark on the “with friends” phrase, most recently by suing the makers of the casual sex app Bang with Friends. Is this what was meant by returning to basics?

Hopefully Mattrick can help the company make another hit, but the ship may already be too far underwater for him to save it.

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