Interacting with a grid

The Zynga experience

Zynga ( ZNGA ) is a maker of socially interactive games. The company's games can be played on mobile devices, on Zynga's website, or on a social media website, e.g., Facebook ( FB ). Zynga went public in 2012, and many pundits trumpeted ZNGA stock as a less expensive way of getting on the same growth train as FB stock, Facebook having gone public earlier that year, but it wasn't long before the trumpets were playing a very different tune.

ZNGA stock has essentially been playing Limbo since this time last year. The company got a new CEO in late 2013 and acquired rival NaturalMotion in February, which drove the share price higher for a time, but that rally has now definitively petered out. Zynga's first quarter 2014 earnings report showed rapidly declining revenue and a loss of $0.07 per share as opposed to a profit of $0.01 in the year-ago quarter. The question today is not "will Zynga rally," but "will Zynga survive?" I'll not give an answer to that question, though perhaps a highly discerning reader might divine what my answer would be.

I did play a Zynga game once, and while it wasn't the one you are probably thinking of, it might as well have been. Meaning what, you ask? Well, when you play a Zynga game, you go through several specific, easily delineated phases, which I have outlined below.

Curiosity: You've heard about this thing. People you know are doing it. It's a free install. So you take look. You install the program, which immediately rewards you by allowing you to do incredibly simple things which increase… well, it doesn't matter.

Confusion: So many options! Is all of this really necessary? What just happened? Why won't they let you just increase your… well, it doesn't matter.

Routine: Ha! You're off to the races now! You know what things to do, what order to do them in, and even how to change the pattern up once you reach the next… well, it doesn't matter.

Investment: Wow, the spaces in between each advancement just get bigger, you've really got to commit a lot of time to keep advancing. So you do.

Moment of Clarity: It just hit you that the hours you invested in making make-believe whatever have a necessary return on investment of nothing . If you had the hours back, you could use them to get an online degree or two. Not. A. Joke.

Annoyance: Now that you've purged your life of this kind of thing, you can't believe anyone would annoy you with a request for help to build out his… well, it doesn't matter.

Sorrow: You've forgiven everyone who sends you those requests. They are still stuck in the Matrix, but you are the chosen one. You feel sad for them.

Incredulity: It's been years now, and you can't feel sad for people forever. Are people really still doing this? It defies comprehension!

Fiddling around with your Facebook settings: At some point you'll be tempted to try this in order to make the requests go away. It will work, or not, depending entirely on Facebook's whim, and the nature of whatever psychological experiment they are currently running on you.

Acceptance: There's no more pain, or there is, it just doesn't matter. You're beyond all that. You are stoic, and ready for whatever comes next. Perhaps there is still one thing that might rile you up, however, and that's when, sometime in the future, you discover that Zynga has ceased to exist, just when you figured out how to coexist with it.

Julian Close has been a business writer since the first day of the twenty-first century, having written for PRA International and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. He became a stockbroker in 1993, but now works for Fresh Brewed Media and uses his powers only for good. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC .

This article was originally published on

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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