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Zynga has ended 2012 in a fairly spectacular fashion, making good on the cost-reduction plan CEO Mark Pincus announced back in November. Over the past month, eleven games have been closed down, removed from the app store, or are simply not accepting any new players.
The studio will now instead focus on supporting only its most successful games, as well as creating new (hopefully also successful) projects.
Zynga's decision shouldn't surprise anybody who's been watching the company's progress. The San Francisco-based developer simply got too big, too quickly, swamping Facebook with casual games and aggressively targeting the mobile market.
Unfortunately, that approach backfired, as Facebook redefined viral marketing, casual gamers shifted their attention, and competitors sprung up at every turn. Investors declared the company "bloated" and Zynga share prices dropped from last year's US$10 IPO price to just US$2.33.
The only solution was to cut back on just about everything. More than 100 jobs were slashed, contracts were not renewed, and 13 titles faced the axe. Of those, 11 games did not see the start of 2013.
As "hardcore" gamers around the world scoff, their casual brothers and sisters are heartbroken. Many fans have spent years - and dollars - perfecting their virtual aquarium or raising their ideal pet, only to have it taken away due to someone's business decision.
To help ease the pain, Zynga is offering fans free virtual goods in games that are still running happily (for now). Gamers who played FishVille, Adventure World and a handful of others are being tempted with freebies in CastleVille, ChefVille, FarmVille 2, Mafia Wars or YoVille - and there are still more than 30 Zynga titles available online.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek