By Anthony Ha
Zynga's (ZNGA) arcade division is releasing its first mobile title today, with the launch of an iOS version of its popular game "Ruby Blast Adventures" (previously available on Facebook (FB) and Zynga.com), under the slightly amended title "Ruby Blast."
Roy Sehgal, the VP in charge of Zynga’s casual and arcade division, gave me a demo yesterday of both the web and mobile experience. A lot of thinking was needed to make the game work on smaller screens with a touch interface, Sehgal said -- but from a player’s perspective, the web and mobile versions feel pretty similar, as you try to "dig" into the game’s mines by frantically searching for matching gems and power ups.
Sehgal emphasized that "Ruby Blast" is a connected mobile experience, meaning that gems get synchronized between your web and mobile accounts. You can also view friends' scores and compete to get to the top of the leaderboard. However, the web game’s adventure mode, where you advance through multiple levels of gameplay, didn’t make the transition to mobile -- hence the name change.
Zynga currently has 58 million monthly active users across its arcade games, and Sehgal argued that those games are a particularly well-suited for mobile because they’re designed to be enjoyable even in short bursts of gameplay (which is less true of the "invest and express" games that Zynga is best-known for, such as "FarmVille"). Zynga first revealed that "Ruby Blast" was coming to phones and tablets back in June, and today it’s also announcing the same for another arcade title, "Bubble Safari."
The mobile version of "Ruby Blast" was built by Zynga’s China team. Andy Tian, the general manager of Zynga China, offered some web stats in a blog post about the game, saying that players have dug the equivalent of 3.1 billion feet (that’s 37 round-trips to Zynga China) and spent more than 630 years playing the game.
Mobile has been a big part of the discussion around Zynga recently, with Mark Pincus citing the "faster-than-expected player adoption of mobile smartphones and and tablets" as one of the company’s challenges, and with mobile seeming to take a bigger role after the company’s various executive shuffles. Sehgal told me yesterday that Zynga is "still defining the mobile playbook," so it will take different approaches as it moves different titles to mobile. In some cases, it will be a fairly direct translation like "Ruby Blast," but in others, it will be more about just taking the intellectual property and building something new.