Don Mattrick, formerly the president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, has been appointed the new CEO at Zynga, of “Farmville” and “WORDS with friends” fame. His Microsoft division was responsible for the Xbox and the revolutionary Kinect, a device for that enables users to control games, movies, music, etc., with physical motion and voice commands, replacing the traditional controller, such as a keyboard or joystick.
Watch for an aggressive, multi-pronged approach to exploiting Zynga’s IP. Though Mattrick isn’t an IP operations techie, he will develop and follow a comprehensive IP strategy.
Patents: IAM Magazine reports between February 2012 and January of 2013, “Zynga’s patent portfolio went from containing a single US grant to 89 patents.” There is a decided emphasis on casino gaming and online gambling patents, and Zynga already claims their “Zynga Poker” is the world’s largest poker game. Mattrick believes in innovation, and, to be sure, early on there will be an assessment of what Zynga owns, controls, and what is missing.
Licensing: Toys have been licensed to Hasbro. From Amazon to eBay to Best Buy consumers can find Farmville plush, collectibles, card games, puzzles, etc. In early 2012, Zynga licensed its first game to Slingo (prior to this, Zynga was the developer of all of its games). Zynga Slingo is a bingo-type game played on Facebook. Readers can expect increased licensing activity, especially as Mattrick reviews what Rovio has done.
Collaboration: Online gambling is big business now, and Bloomberg reports the U.S. market for online gambling may reach $7.4 billion a year by 2017, according to Manchester, U.K.-based researcher H2 Gaming Capital. Zynga is already applying for license to operate in states where gambling is permitted. It appears the cards are stacked against them, as existing stakeholders pretty much get their way … but those stakeholders are experiencing P&L issues as well, so expect a sustained effort to partner with entrenched casinos and other players in the gambling marketplace.