Zynga released its second quarter earnings report that showed a loss of $22.8 million that has some industry observers wondering if the online games that allowed the company to make a fortune have any staying power.
"The results are a disaster," Arvind Bhatia, a Sterne Agee & Leach analyst told Fox Business. "It's looking more and more like this might have been a fad."
Zynga believes the popularity of its online social gaming platform predominantly on Facebook is anything but a fad and is preparing to transition from free-play games to real money offerings in poker, bingo and casino games. With a player base of 33.8 million for poker alone, Zynga has five times as many free-play players as PokerStars, the world's largest real money poker room. To give an idea of the extent of Zynga's reach in the free-play online poker market, if the number of play chips in use by Zynga players in one day was converted to American dollars, the U.S National Debt would be wiped clean.
However, some cynics scoff at the notion that a huge number of players will make the transition to real money play. It is believed that a large number of Zynga Poker players are under the age of 18, residing in countries where real money online poker is currently illegal, and perhaps, not interested in playing for cash as there are hundreds of poker sites already available to choose from.
Zynga has reportedly submitted a bid to purchase the Ongame Network, which is currently ranked sixth in player traffic by PokerScout. However, other reports indicate that PlayTech and G2 Tech, who provide software for the iPoker Network and the International Poker Network, respectively, have submitted bids to Zynga to provide a real money online poker platform
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus recently told investors that “we have our first products in development and that we intend to release them in markets that are regulated and open, subject to our getting licensing.” This would not include the U.S., although regulations have been put in place in Nevada and Delaware. “The U.S. is obviously an attractive market, but it’s not an open, regulated environment today,” Pincus added.
Many experienced online poker players salivate at the thought of some of those 33.8 million players sitting down at real money poker tables. However, Zynga players may not be quite as fishy or inexperienced as many online players would like to believe. A fourth place finish by Zynga Poker amateurs competing against international poker professionals at last year's Nations Cup proved that there may be some sharks among the free-playing fish.