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Science & Tech

Shocking: Zynga's dead but mobile gaming is alive

Have you plowed your virtual farm lately? Chances are, you’ve ditched the social gaming paradigm in favor of tablet or smartphone games. At least that’s amongst the speculated reasons why social gaming company Zynga reported horrific Q2 earnings. Social gaming – and Zynga – had a good ride, but mobile is clearly the future.

During extended trading, shares of Zynga went far beyond the dungeons of Castleville and the horse manure of Farmville. At one point, shares fell 42 percent in afterhours trading. Due to the close connection with Facebook, Zynga dragged them down as much as 9.7 percent thus far. Can Zynga recover from these monumental losses?

Not likely, unless they embrace the mobile movement, similar to how Facebook has. Users switched gears and began using mobile games rather than social ones. It isn’t nearly as fun playing Farmville on your Mac when you could be tapping away on your iPhone or iPad. According to analysts, FarmVille, CastleVille, and CityVille collectively lost 20 percent of their user base in Q1 and Q2.

Social gaming had a good ride, but it’s over. If anything, today marked the official end to Zynga’s short-lived success. Social gaming on a computer isn’t convenient, nor is it healthy to wake up at 2 a.m. to plow your farm or harvest your crops. Zynga could learn a thing or two from Facebook’s new mobile integration, which allows standalone iOS games to tap into your Facebook information.

None of this is surprising, given Zynga’s entire business model of users buying virtual goods – err credits – is unsustainable and skewed. Why would you spend $10 buying credits or props when you can purchase a premium game on iTunes or Google Play? And those games don’t spam your friends and their newsfeed. Plus, you can use the purchased item anywhere, anytime.

Right about now you can bet Zynga is kicking themselves for not adopting their business plan to go mobile. It’s sad, really, because they had the potential to own the mobile gaming community if they had their ducks in a row. Rather, they thought people would legitimately play games on Facebook for the rest of eternity.