If you don’t have the talent, buy it. It seems that Farmville creator Zynga is living by this mantra. Just last month, it acquired OMGPop, a controversial deal that so far does not seem to have been in the casual gaming giant’s favor. This month, the company is buying up more talent in the form of Wild Needle, a small development company that focuses on the casual female market.
Wild Needle’s first entry into the iOS gaming market was Shoptown Hero, a casual sim game where players have to save a small town from a tycoon named Fat Ralph. The game is basically about managing virtual inventories and negotiating prices with customers; in other words, a typcial economic sim game. It appears that Zynga’s acquisition was mostly for the talent, which is how Zynga generally approaches buyouts.
The constant gobbling up of developers without any real hits as of late is reflected in Zynga’s bottom line: it’s declining. Since a stock price of $9.50 just after launch, the price has dropped to $7.95. Combined with net declines in active users in their games, it seems that the company is desperate for another hit title and is willing to pay to get one. Will buying up talent be enough? Only time will tell.