Former social gaming giant Zynga is going for the ol’ Hail Mary: The company announced Thursday that they’ve struck deals with the NFL and pro golfer Tiger Woods to develop a series of sports games for mobile devices.
While new sports games for mobile phones aren’t much to get excited about, the fact that Zynga has locked down an NFL licensing deal is an interesting development in the company’s years-long struggle to pull itself from the brink of disaster.
USA Today reports that the deals came just as Zynga shares dropped 7 percent in after-hours trading when the company’s second-quarter earnings failed to meet expectations.
For a brief period of time, Zynga was inescapable. If you had a Facebook account and any number of friends, chances are that between posting photos and commenting on statuses, you had a farm to run. FarmVille was Zynga’s magnum opus, the amusement that perfected the company’s addictive Facebook-game formula of giving players Pavlovian diversions while encouraging them to spam friends and pay small amounts of money in order to advance more quickly. Within days of its 2009 launch, FarmVille had 32 million people playing every day. It would eventually spawn a sequel.
But in December 2011 Zynga went public, and its troubles began. Seven months later, the company’s stock crashed, serving as a reminder of the truth behind that old cliche about keeping all of your eggs in one basket. Ironically, the company had taken steps to distance itself from that basket—Facebook—just one month prior.
Although Zynga hired Don Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft’s entertainment division, to help turn the company around last year, Zynga still lacks another bona fide, Candy Crush-level hit.
The company’s Tiger Woods golf game will launch in 2015. The first football game, NFL Showdown, a management sim, is “coming soon.”