Game On! – Zynga Inc (ZNGA), Electronic Arts Inc. (EA)

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Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) the San Francisco based company that provides online social games services, has been anything but a winner for shareholders since going public Dec. 16, 2011.

Priced at $10, shares peaked at $15.91. But since that lofty level, the stock has been a loser, hitting a low of $2.09 and currently changing hands around $2.60.

In attempts to stage a turnaround, Zynga has reduced headcount, shuttered studios and retired some of its older games that no longer have a strong following. Some 13 underperforming titles were shutdown or closed to new players while the company encouraged gamers to try Zynga’s other and fresher games.

Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)Shedding aging games is a smart move. Videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) showed just what a drag out-of-favor games and consoles can do to a bottom line. The company recently reported a weaker than expected quarter weighed down by older, existing consoles and held back as consumer wait for new games to become available. The maker of games like “Medal of Honor” endured a challenging holiday quarter, usually one of the company’s most robust seasons.

New challenges facing Zynga is the recent departure of chief games designer Brian Reynolds, who also founded the company’s studio in Baltimore. Reynolds up and left with no public explanation. His exit rattled already rattled investors.

This year could be win or lose for Zynga. Key to success could be plans to enter the real-money online gambling business outside the United States (only a few states allow online gambling).

Expected in the first half of 2013 is a suite of actual money casino games in collaboration with Bwin.Party. Games set to be launched include roulette, slots, blackjacks and poker. Anticipation is growing for the launch. If well received, the joint venture could be fruitful for both parties as well as gamers.

Expansion plans for this year also include branching out into licensed board games. More mobile game apps are also on tap.

Moving heavily in mobile is a smart move. Look what it has done to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s bottom line.

The social networking behemoth, who once had a special relationship with Zynga over the years affording the social game provider special access to Facebook users, is morphing into a mobile company in efforts to cash in on the explosive arena.

In earnest attempts to monetize its 1 billion members who continue to access the site more frequently via smartphones and tablets, Facebook’s main focus now is mobile. Boasting the No. 1 app in the U.S., Facebook has recognized the increasing traffic to its site from mobile devices and plans to take advantage of the growing trend.

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