Zynga delivered second quarter revenues ahead of guidance driven by strength in its mobile live services in addition to network optimizations across the company’s advertising portfolio. The game company’s revenues came to $217.0 million, which is up 4 percent year-over-year while bookings were $233.9 million, up 12 percent year-over-year, with the strongest growth coming from its mobile titles.
On the earnings call, Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau highlighted how growth across user pay and advertising drove mobile revenues up 7 percent to $192.7 million and mobile bookings up 17 percent to $211.6 million. Feature enhancements and bold beats increased player engagement with “forever franchise” games, particularly Words With Friends, CSR 2 and Zynga Poker. These three games delivered higher than expected monetization and collectively brought double-digit year-over-year mobile revenue and bookings growth.
Feature enhancements led to higher player engagement, which in turn led to strong advertising performance in addition to the continued adoption of user monetization within the games. Specifically, Words With Friends delivered a 30 percent increase in mobile revenue and mobile bookings were up 49 percent year-over-year. The company intends to further advance this growth trend by creating more value for players through additional feature enhancements in the coming quarters.
Meanwhile, racing game CSR 2 benefited from a licensing agreement with Universal Brand Development for a Fast & Furious in-game event, which Gibeau said was the strongest performing release from the partnership to date. Although its mobile revenue was down four percent year-over-year because of the timing at which the company recognizes bookings into revenue, the game delivered its best quarterly bookings in its history with a 21 percent year-over-year increase.
Gibeau also noted that a key component of CSR 2’s success is its partnerships with carmakers, which gives players a chance to check out high-end vehicles. Recent examples include the in-game launch of the BMW M2 Competition, which gave players a chance to virtually preview the high-performance car before the real-world vehicle officially debuted.
“For the remainder of 2018, CSR 2 has more bold beats planned, including a series of events featuring some of Porsche’s most iconic cars, collectors and drivers in the celebration of Porsche’s 75th anniversary,” he announced.
Lastly, Zynga Poker revenues rose by 19 percent and mobile bookings were up 13 percent year-over-year, with growth in performance was supported by feature updates.
Looking ahead, the company plans to leverage games produced by Turkish game studio Gram Games, which Zynga acquired in May for $250 million. Gibeau said that its most recent title Merge Dragons has the potential to become one of the company’s next forever franchises.
Meanwhile, Zynga’s four-point growth strategy includes:
- Delivering growth in live services
- Building new games with the goal of creating forever franchises
- Investing in mobile technologies
- Exploring merger and acquisition opportunities that will enhance growth potential
Zynga said that it is taking its time with new game development while it focuses on its forever franchises, which form the core element of its mobile business. The reason for this is because the company wants to give new titles a strong chance of rising to become forever franchises. A “machine gun approach” of releasing a long list of games in a short time would require extra marketing and talent resources.