Social Poker Revenues Declining, WSOP Could Overtake Zynga On Mobile 

Zynga social poker WSOP mobile

Zynga continues to be the leader in social poker games, but could be overtaken on mobile devices by the WSOP app soon. (zyngapoker.com)

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.

Ed Scimia
Written by
Ed Scimia
Ed Scimia is a freelance writer and author from Bethel, Connecticut. He is the author of Catching Fish: Your Practical Guide To Beating $1/$2 No-Limit Texas Hold'em Games, which once spent a few hours at #1 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list for poker books. Ed also serves as the Chess Expert for About.com. In the winter, Ed enjoys curling, which really is an Olympic sport.

Comments

That Guy wrote...

I don’t understand “social” poker. Poker is a gambling game of skill where people risk something of value to try to win something of value. There is no risk in a “social” game of poker. It’s simply not poker. It’s not poker because there is no risk.

There are so many great games to be played on a PC. Car racing games, 1st person shooters, strategy games, fantasy games etc. etc. Why play a stupid poker game that isn’t even poker when there are so many other great games to choose from?

I meet people all the time when I’m travelling, and when the conversation gets to what do I do and I tell them about how I play poker on the internet, they say “I do too!”…and when I ask them what sites they play they tell me play money games on such and such a site…and then the conversation stops right there. I don’t want to be rude so I don’t say anything but I’m thinking “Wow, play money, wtf!?”

The fact that people spend millions on Zynga for play-money poker boggles my mind.

nevadanick wrote...

Play money games do not have to have a cash investment. There are sites that offer totally ‘free’ play poker games. Sure, you can buy-in if you want a higher ‘level’ of player, but not required. I’m one of those. I have never deposited one red cent on an online gaming site. I have, however, cashed out of sites after building a small bankroll and then playing cash buy-ins.

Buying Zynga poker, just like Candy Crush, Soda, Farm, etc, are strange, only to the point that people are paying for an exact amount of entertainment. I don’t think many, if any, expect a profit return. They do play to experience reaching level 2,350 (or whatever) against their friends, co-workers and family. A personal accomplishment, not a cash return.

Online poker / cash deposits – a different subject altogether. After years of play, it’s just my own assessment, but I think many players have become numb to being seated with all-in fanatics, every hand bluffers, software ‘advantage’ play, and very little poker that resembles something folks want – and like – to play. Friendly forum games, ‘home’ games online – maybe. Constant deposits with no return don’t appeal forever. Why not just give your cash to online casinos? Push the button and you are only playing against the house for an ‘estimated’ house cut. Maybe you get lucky, maybe not. Plus, the casino game never spouts expletives about your heritage and ancestry and never makes you sit in a game with obnoxious drunks who invariably seem to get seated to your right.

All of the above (and a few more) – the reasons I play little online and prefer to play live tables … cash in, cash out.

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