Online poker is a very big market worldwide, but it only brings in a fraction of the money that is claimed by Internet casino sites.
The same appears to be true in the social gaming scene, where casino apps are taking in more money than their poker counterparts, a fact that Zynga may have to react to sooner rather than later if it wishes to remain at the top of the social gaming world.
According to a report by SuperData Research, total revenues in the world of social online poker games are dropping precipitously, and that trend is expected to continue in the years to come.
While games like Zynga Poker brought in $203 million in 2013, that number is expected to drop to about $179 million this year, and fall to $156 million by 2017.
Zynga’s Struggles Hurt Social Poker Market
The biggest factor in that drop is the struggling Zynga Poker.
While it is still the largest name in the social poker market, bringing in about 61 percent of all money in that niche, Zynga Poker lost about 44 percent of its audience last year.
A significant change like that drags down the entire social poker market, SuperData Research said in their Social Casino Metrics, May 2015 report.
“Because of Zynga Poker’s overwhelming command over social poker, their performance has been reflected in the overall market,” senior analyst Stehpanie Llamas said. “Their poker game has largely been fueled by the volume of its users, since average spending is low for this type of game.”
Revenues are still pretty robust for Zynga Poker, as they started 2015 with a little more than 20 million players. That player base is big enough to bring in about $9 million to $13 million each month for the company.
WSOP Could Be Mobile Leader
Perhaps the next-best known name in the social poker market is the World Series of Poker. The WSOP social poker game has doubled its player base in the past year, and now has about 3.25 million players.
But where the WSOP has proven especially strong is in the mobile sector. Their app appears likely to overtake Zynga Poker in terms of mobile users sometime this year: a major coup, as SuperData analysts say that the mobile market will bring in the majority of revenue for social poker by 2018.
Where are all the poker players going? According to the SuperData report, casual players are playing more casino games and fewer hands of poker, something Zynga could take a look at if they want to recapture some of their audience.
“With Zynga Poker, the company can cater to the desires of poker enthusiasts who prefer the experience of a standalone poker app,” the report read. “Meanwhile, casual poker players are drawn to casino-style apps that include poker alongside other games like slots and blackjack.”
Zynga’s problems may go beyond shifting trends in the social gaming landscape, however.
The company attempted to make a major overhaul to their Zynga Poker software last March, and the effort may have backfired: many players complained about the changes, and Zynga was forced to revive the older version of the software as an offering known as “Zynga Poker Classic” last fall.