It would appear that Zynga, even with the attempts to incentivise employees to stay, is having trouble keeping its top talent. As Zynga's stock price has dropped, 70% since December, the confidence of its employees has plummeted. As other opportunities have presented themselves, people have moved on, leaving behind a bit of a shell.
This week, Alan Patmore, director of CityVille, left to go to Kixeye. Before that, Erik Bethke, director of Mafia Wars 2, announced that he had left the company as well. Ya-Bing Chu, a corporate vice president, as well as Jeremy Strauser also left this month. John Schappert, Chief Operating Officer, also resigned effective August 8th, after less than 18 months. That is a lot of top guys all leaving together, including the COO, which does not bode well for the company.
So, what could Zynga do to save itself at this point? Hit the break for some ideas.
The first and most obvious idea is to become relevant again. The only way to do that is to make games that people want to play. The best way to do that is not to steal ideas from EA, or anyone else for that matter. They need to create a game that is unique and addictive. They had that with FarmVille, but with no real game enhancements, the game got stale and people left. Also, the viral game concept needs to be freshened from time to time. SimCity Social has managed to do it pretty well.
If Zynga is incapable of coming up with the concepts themselves, maybe it is time for them to join another company. EA is expanding its social reach, perhaps the Zynga team could add their expertise in the genre to the already successful EA social products. Amazon might also be a good team for Zynga to join up with. Clearly Amazon is a company with ideas and the ability to market, if not totally implement. With Amazon's ideas and Zynga's development team, they could bring some exciting exclusive titles to the Kindle Fire (and the possibly 6 new tablets coming soon).
If Zynga doesn't do something soon, it will not make it long. Software, especially social, is such a competitive business - one short time period of failure and you could be out of the industry all together. Zynga has been on the edge for about a year now, and it will be over the edge one way or the other shortly.