Zynga Real-Money Gaming License Attempt: A Wise Move?

 |  About: Zynga (ZNGA)
by: Heisenberg Principle

I have written very negatively in the past about the implosion in business at Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA). Its "Midas touch" it used to have is all but gone. Almost all of its games are experiencing a life in the spotlight that dies just as quickly as a new Twilight sequel. And its core business is imploding almost daily. With their has-been success, why would they even bother attempting a whole new direction, jumping into the far more challenging world of gambling?

Is it a move of desperation? Or are they simply honing in on their possibly their biggest strength?

At Zynga, monthly average users (MAU) and daily average users (DAU) continue their freefall. As explained in Zynga's most recent 10Q filing, their top 3 to 5 games can be anywhere from 50% to 80% of the entire company's revenues so I find it important to track the MAU and DAU traffic trends of their top games. Below is an updated detail on the top 5 games of Zynga (two and a half months ago according to appdata.com) and what's happened to them since that time (figures in millions).



  Chefville Slingo Texas Hold 'em Bubble Safari The Ville
09-22 55.5 6.6 43.6 2.9 36.3 6.9 30.4 4.6 30.2 2.9
09-30 50.2 4.9 53.0 2.1 39.3 6.7 30.3 4.0 24.4 2.1
10-14 35.0 4.4 30.1 1.8 38.5 6.2 28.7 3.5 20.2 1.7
10-24 28.2 4.1 23.4 1.8 35.8 6.2 26.4 3.5 17.1 1.5
11-18 23.7 3.8 19.2 1.5 33.8 6.3 24.6 2.9 11.1 0.9
11-29 22.8 3.6 17.4 1.4 34.6 6.3 23.4 2.9 9.6 0.9
12-06 22.5 3.8 16.2 1.3 33.7 6.1 22.2 2.9 8.8 0.8
Decline -59.5% -42.4% -62.8% -55.2% -7.2% -11.6% -27.0% -37.0% -70.9% -73.8%
Click to enlarge

Here's what interesting -- as one can see from the table, it's Zynga's poker game, Texas Hold 'em, that has had the most staying power. It has "only" had a 7.2% decline in MAU and 11.6% in DAU in the same time period versus an average decline of its 4 peers of 55% in MAU and 52.1% even though the Hold 'em game has been around much longer.

The question is if this is a desperate move by Zynga in light of its core business imploding -- or it is a wise decision in light of the fact that their most consistent and reliable success has been from its "free" gambling game? Perhaps launching a successful gambling franchise could re-spark their relationship with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) as well. Facebook certainly has the audience that could benefit them both.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.