Market Overview

Zynga's New Platform Could Be a Game Changer

The online game developer, Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA), has been a battle ground stock since its IPO in December, 2011. Bearish traders and analysts have been concerned of the company's dependency on Facebook, whereas the bulls' thesis has been that Zynga's valuation should be 12% of Facebook's valuation as it makes up that amount of the social network's revenues.

The bears have had the upper hand on today, as JP Morgan downgraded Zynga from Overweight to Neutral. JP Morgan's research report noted that: "we are downgrading Zynga from Overweight to Neutral as we believe the risk/reward in the shares is now more balanced at current levels.” Additionally, CNBC's Jim Cramer made cautious comments on Zynga this morning stating that he likes the company's business model, but it is overvalued.

However, Zynga's announcement last week regarding the launch of its own online gaming platform may change this equation. Zynga stated that the new platform will be hosted on the company's website, zynga.com, and that it will also include games by third party developers. The company is expecting to launch zynga.com this month in 16 different languages, which would make the platform more targeted to Zynga's international audience.

The company's general manager, Manuel Bronstein commented on the news: “Zynga.com was created based on listening to players and understanding what they want and need to make their play time more fun and meaningful. We are excited to give players a way to connect with other people who love to play the same games in a destination that is all and only about games. We will continue to listen to player feedback and provide even better ways for them to connect and play together.”

A Wedbush analyst, Michael Pachter, who covers Zynga noted that the platform is a big deal. Pachter stated that the new platform “allows non-Facebook players to access Zynga games and play with their Facebook counterparts, and allows Facebook players to play without constantly having to post on their Facebook wall.”

Pachter continued by saying that the new platform is good for Facebook too, as it will get paid on all transactions and gain access to new group of people, who are interested in apps, but are not using Facebook yet.

On the other hand, last week also brought some negative news. All Things D reported that one of Zynga's lead game developers is departing the company. However, Michael Pachter stated that the company has a lot more senior people and he is not seeing the “loss as meaning anything at all.”

You can follow me on Twitter @TuomoKallio

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