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Facebook: Q1 game revenue up 12%, Zynga down 37%
Wed 01 May 2013 10:41pm GMT / 6:41pm EDT / 3:41pm PDT
Zuckerberg says Zynga's “growth hasn't been as awesome as everyone had hoped”
Facebook had a solid first quarter for 2013, and games were part of the growth despite a drop in revenue from Zynga. On today's earnings call, COO Sheryl Sandberg noted that first quarter total revenue was $1.458 billion. Net income was $219 million on a GAAP basis, and $312 million non-GAAP. There was good growth from ad revenue, and game usage increased despite a significant drop by Zynga. Facebook recorded 665 million daily active users (DAU) in March, up 26 percent over last year, with 1.11 billion monthly active users (MAU) up 23 percent.
"Our growth is particularly strong from new small and medium-sized marketers, direct response marketers, and app developers," said Sandberg. In Q1 mobile was 30 percent of Facebook's ad revenues, up from 23 percent in Q4. "We offer developers a unique opportunity to drive downloads of their mobile apps. During the quarter 3800 developers used that to drive nearly 25 million downloads. Of the top 100 grossing apps on both iOS and Android in the last week of Q1, about 40 percent of them used our mobile app install ads. In gaming, travel, e-commerce and financial service industries, the early indicator is that our cost per install is highly competitive."
"With the exception of our largest partner, Zynga, whose growth hasn't been as awesome as everyone had hoped, the rest of the community is actually growing quite well and is quite healthy"
"Payments revenue from games was up 12 percent," said CFO David Ebersman. "We believe 6 percent represents the best apples-to-apples comparison in terms of the increase for payments from games if we adjust for items such as the Q4 change in revenue recognition timing. We're pleased that Q1 represented our largest three month quarter of games revenue to date, despite a 37 percent drop in year over year payments volume from our largest developer, as our other developers increased their payments volumes by almost 60 percent and we saw a record number of people playing games on Facebook."
"Games revenue in Q1 benefited from the growth of games launched in the past year, and also from our efforts to increase game distribution, usage, and payments conversion. We believe Facebook continues to offer a compelling platform for developers to build great games and businesses, and we will continue to invest in this area."
When a question came from an analyst about Facebook's platform strategy the lessons the company has learned, CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded: "One thing that I think has actually gone well with platform recently is the gaming ecosystem. With the exception of our largest partner, Zynga, whose growth hasn't been as awesome as everyone had hoped, the rest of the community is actually growing quite well and is quite healthy. We're pretty happy with that, and it's a pretty diverse group. We're up to 81 of the top-grossing 100 iOS apps, and 70 of the top-grossing Android apps are connected in with Facebook, so we're getting good coverage."
Kabam, the developer behind Kingdoms of Camelot, has set up a $50 million developer fund to help Japanese game developers release their games in North America and Europe, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal.
Kabam will take a piece of the revenue and will assist in the localization and translating of Japanese games for the Western markets. They will also market the titles to help them stand out in a crowded market.
"We’re putting our money where our mouth is," said Kabam CEO Kevin Chou. He believes that Japanese developers who partner with Kabam will be able to double their revenue.
Kabam does have two rivals in Gree and DeNA who are also helping Japanese developers to release their games in the Western markets. Kabam believes that its strong relationship with Apple, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo gives them the advantage over Gree and DeNA.
Zynga stock jumps on Yahoo buyout rumors
The social game publisher's shares have risen 67% since the start of the year
Zynga has seen its stock rise 43 percent since its fourth quarter results last month and 67 percent since the start of 2013. While much of the rise has been from the potential of real-money gaming, lately shares have been on the increase due to a rumor that internet giant Yahoo could acquire Zynga - the stock jumped 10 percent on Monday.
The Wall Street Journal commented, "There are some good reasons to make this kind of speculation: it's a natural content fit with Yahoo, and the company would be a cheap purchase - if only to pick up mobile engineers, for which Yahoo has made a priority."
Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter, however, doubts a Yahoo buyout will happen and he remains skeptical about Zynga's business. "The stock's run on speculation regarding acquisitions and real-money gaming is concerning," he said. "We believe that ZNGA is unlikely to be acquired anytime soon, as we don't believe that Mark Pincus wants to sell at this time. Nor do we believe that Yahoo would have any interest in acquiring a content creator such as ZNGA when its strategy is to partner with varied content providers."
Schachter added, "The other key point is that real-money gaming is unlikely to be material to 2013 numbers and the roadmap for the longer-term opportunity is decidedly unclear, both in terms of timing and its potential size. While the stock may continue to trade on these two speculative factors for the near term, we think the fundamental game business is much more important for estimates in 2013, 2014, and possibly beyond."
Schachter has a 12-month price target of $3.00 for Zynga. The company's stock is trading down roughly four percent at $3.77 as of this writing.
Disney lays off 50 on top of Junction Point closure