Zynga Winds Down Real Money Gaming In The UK

Zynga HQ

Zynga’s half-hearted flirtation with real-money poker is over as the company goes back to basics following disappointing financial results. (mashable.com)

Zynga Poker, it was once hoped, might single-handedly spawn a second poker boom. Around 2013 the social gaming giant seemed poised to enter the real money market, as poker players licked their lips at its 32 million registered play-money users (or, to put it another way, 0.5 percent of human life on Planet Earth).

The conversion of just a tiny percentage of these players to real-money could have flooded the online poker ecology with the recreational players needed to spark a huge resurgence in the game.

But now, the news that Zynga is to close its ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino operations in the UK, terminating its partnership with bwin.party in the process, would appear to signal the end for the company’s half-hearted flirtation with real-money gaming.

The partnership began with casino in April 2013, around the time Zynga announced it would not be pursuing a remote gambling license in the about-to-be-regulated US states.

Instead, it chose to observe its performance in the UK market, before choosing whether to take over the world.

Real Money Launches

ZyngaPlusPoker was launched for UK Facebook users in January 2014, but efforts to convert players to real-money gaming were under-marketed and proved to be spectacularly unsuccessful. Real-money players in the UK are now receiving notices advising them of the forthcoming closure and suggesting they cash out their balances.

“We are very sorry to announce that ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino will be closing shortly,” says the statement. “If you have a balance please log in to withdraw it. If you are having problems logging in you can reset your password or you can always contact us by calling FREE on 08003767968.”

It would appear that Zynga is gradually abandoning its attempts to diversify, instead reverting to concentrating on its core offerings. The company has been criticized recently for spreading itself too thin; recent quarterly results were disappointing and forecasts were no better, sending shares tumbling.

Struggle to Adapt

In a stinging research note entitled “Zynga Needs A New Leader – Time for Don Mattrick To Go,” BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield attacked the Zynga CEO.

“Your strategy appears to be all over the place,” said Greenfield. “Your core franchises have and continue to generate meaningful earnings, yet that is being completely offset by your attempts to find the next hit games in categories where Zynga has no underlying expertise.”

Mattrick replaced Zynga founder Mark Pincus in April 2014, and since then the company has struggled to adapt as social gaming continues to move away from Facebook and towards mobile gaming. A new version of Zynga Poker launched in 2014, but the company admitted it hadn’t done enough geographic and device-platform testing. The new platform failed to run on a lot of devices, and many players said they preferred the look and feel of its predecessor. Zynga was forced to bring back the older version.

Philip Conneller
Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.

Comments

BearPlay wrote...

Well, they tried!

That Guy wrote...

I kinda knew it wouldn’t take off. I know a lot of people who play play-money holdem on various sites and when I ask them if they would play real money they always say “NO!”. They seem to be fascinated that I play real money and they ask me questions like “How do you put money there?, How do you cash out? How can you trust they won’t steal your money?” etc. Even after I explain everything they still respond with a flat “NO!” if I ask if they are going to play real money.

I think Zynga didn’t realize that it was such a huge leap for the play money crowd to move over to real money. They dropped the ball on their market research in a huge way. Too bad though, a poker boom is badly needed right now.

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