How did the acquisitions affect Zynga’s Q4 figures? – We talked to Bernard Kim

Zynga, which recently published its Q4 results, announced that 2020 was a year with full of record numbers for them.

Zynga, which recently published its Q4 results, announced that 2020 was a year with full of record numbers for them.

The company made a big move by acquiring Rollic and Peak Games in 2020. Looking at the report, the increase in the company’s annual revenues shows that the acquisitions have had an impact.

Speaking with Batuhan Avucan, the founder and manager of Mobidictum about the results of the Q4, Bernard Kim, Zynga president of publishing expressed that he is very proud of the results.

While asking for the Q4 and annual figures, Avucan also mentioned the money spent on Peak and Rollic. “How did the year end for you?”

Bernard Kim says, “I couldn’t be prouder of what Zynga did in 2020. Record revenue, record bookings, the highest growth in the company history, 61% Y/Y growth on bookings perspective. So, it has been really really exciting. The thing I’m the proudest of is being able to deliver fun to so many players in a time of need. I think players needed that moment of escape, entertainment, social connectivity, and Zynga teams were able to provide all these things while transitioning to the working-from-home environment.”

Also, as you mentioned, we were able to expand our family in 2020 by buying two great studios based in Istanbul. You referred to the dollar amounts, but it’s worth in regards to expanding the portfolio of games that many experiences our players want and need. So, it has been a very very exciting year for us.”

Zynga’s management team
Zynga’s management team: Frank Gibeau, CEO; Matt Bromberg, COO; Ger Griffin, CFO; and Bernard Kim, President of Publishing.

One of the top-grossing mobile games companies in the world

As Kim stated, Zynga ended in Q4 with $699 million in bookings (61% Y/Y growth). Besides, for the year, they ended $2,27 billion in bookings (45% Y/Y growth). 

“This makes us one the fastest growing companies at scale in the world. We are one of the top-grossing games companies in the world on mobile which is also the fastest growing platform. So, we’re really excited about our position,” said Kim

Moreover, according to the report, Words With Friends saw a great year. The game achieved all-time best revenue and booking in Q4. Although Bernard says that most of their games are performing really well, he affirmed the success of Words With Friends.

“It’s pretty incredible when we had a record-breaking revenue year from the game that is over a decade old. You know, this unprecedented year the teams were actually able to create environments like the solo mode, season pass, new features, new daily objectives, and achievements that players can go after.”

Kim also refers to that they’ve been able to build a business that came from zero in-app purchase revenue to becoming one of the top-grossing US iPhone games for Zynga. 

“Words With Friends is a great way to connect with friends and family. A great way to meet new people in a safe and also fun environment. In Words With Friends, there is a passion around the game experiences and you can play as competitively or as casually, as you want. You can pick to people you play depending on what you want in those moments. So, I think Words With Friends, Zynga Poker, etc. are the games that apply social connectivity as well as escape. Consequently, players really really jump back in 2020.”

Frank Gibeau recruited Bernard Kim through Words With Friends

When it came to socializing through games, Kim talked about the role Words With Friends played in his journey with Zynga. According to him, the company’s CEO, Frank Gibeau, made the offer from the chat part of the game.

“At this time, 5 years ago, I was playing Words With Friends with Frank Gibeau who just appointed as the CEO at Zynga. And in the corner, there is a chat button. Frank and I were talking there and he was sending me chats about potentially joining Zynga.”

“I’m happy that I responded to those chat messages. I was kind of negotiated the entire position and he recruited me (laughs). I think it was the first time that anyone was recruited by a president of a company through a chat function in a word game. We didn’t do anything on email. We did it all in Words With Friends.”

“We let them continue to thrive”

When we asked Kim what’s Zynga’s extra effort on Rollic’s two games on the top chart, he said they chose to let the studios be free. Although Zynga promises to help the companies it has purchased when they need it, it also allows studios to maintain their own culture.

“Is there a secret formula that we apply to their business to keep them to create top free games in the marketplace? No, there isn’t. We just let them continue to thrive and let their passions go. In the case of Rollic, we actually bought that studios that made one of their top games. We’ve given them capital to go after things in a very aggressive manner as well as fuel growth with marketing they have the freedom to do that with the backing of Zynga.”

“I would say that when it comes to adapting the Rollic at the Zynga, I think we learned more from Rollic than they learned from us. I’m incredible inspired by morning calls with Burak, the CEO of Rollic. His energy, his spirit, his passion… You know, I’m kind of an old man now and he is much younger and I get inspired by talking to him.”

Zynga sketch artist
Zynga sketch artist in the Words With Friends department.

“I do think companies had scale have an advantage”

The input is on hypercasual since it’s evolving to casual. If you’re planning to launch a hypercasual game, there are barriers to entry in the marketplace. There is a lot of competition, and many hypercasual studios are slowly directing their mechanics to the casual genre. Referring to this issue, Avucan asked Kim about their growth strategy for 2021.

“I do think companies had scale have an advantage,” said Kim. “Hit the ability to go after the intellectual property like FarmVille or Harry Potter, Star Wars and then being able to scale marketing using capital and really strong execution in user acquisition are our key elements to breaking through those barriers to entry.”

“We knew consolidation is coming in when we set it five years ago. It’s is definitely here. It’s either be eaten. You know, we’re gonna keep eating hopefully. And we’re going to be inquisitive in this space.”

He adds, “I think that launching new is hard. It requires a lot of time, passion, testing, energy. That’s why we’re also investing in new games. Star Wars coming this year, Harry Potter continued success, FarmVille coming next… All these things are happening but at the same time, we want to be inquisitive about bringing new companies at Zynga cause we’re always on the hunt.”

When it comes to acquisitions, in addition to the moves Zynga has made, Rollic announced that it purchased the Onnect game in December 2020. Curious about Zynga’s thoughts on this purchase, Avucan asked Kim for his comment on this topic.

“Just expanding our portfolio of games so, we’re passionate about properly performing incredible way,” Kim answered. 

“The dollar amount is based on how we think the game is going to continue to perform but our ideas are to bring it with Rollic, it has really been interesting because our network of smaller independent developers that are developing great games that can break through like High Heels or Blob Runner 3D, we can expand those things potentially have a become the part of the family. So we can grow faster.”

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