Zynga Poker is nearing its tenth birthday but the venerable free-play game just posted its best quarterly mobile performance in franchise history.
Social gamers Zynga released their Q1 report card on Thursday, which showed revenue rising 4% year-on-year to $194.3m in the three months ending March 31. Despite this gain, the company still reported a net loss of $9.5m, although that’s an improvement over the $26.6m loss in Q1 2016.
Bookings, the in-game sale of virtual goods, rose 14% to $207.4m, of which 85% came via mobile. Mobile bookings were up 27% year-on-year while mobile revenue was up 19%, accounting for 83% of overall revenue, ten points higher than in Q1 2016.
Things were less rosy on the ‘advertising and other’ front, thanks to what Zynga called a “softness” in the gaming ad market. The category’s revenue fell 18% to $40.8m.
Zynga had been shedding users over the past few years like they were Donald Trump kicking sick people off insurance rolls, but the company managed to pull off some rare user growth in Q1, albeit no thanks to desktop computer users. Average daily active users (DAU) were up 8%, driven by a 16% rise in mobile DAUs, offset by a 30% decline in web DAUs.
Average daily bookings per average DAU was up 4% year-on-year to $0.107 but down 10% from Q4 2016. The gains were due to a significant bump (36%) in the rate of converting players to payers, which grew to 2.3% from 1.7% in Q1 2016.
Zynga Poker accounted for 23% of Q1 game revenue, four points higher than the same period last year. The game rode the momentum from Apple featuring the product for the first time in the App Store in Q4, which helped drive Q1 mobile revenue up 63%, mobile bookings up 76% and mobile audience up 78%.
The poker product’s growth was the strongest in over two years, and the company says it’s planning “an ambitious roadmap of bold beats” to ensure the app maintains its positive trajectory ahead of its tenth anniversary in July.
Zynga’s Social Slots division had a less impressive quarter, as its share of game revenue fell three points to 29%. Much of the decline was due to Hit It Rich! Slots, which saw its share decline by one-third to 10% of total game revenue. Wizard of Oz Slots fared better thanks to the introduction of the Choose Your Side feature, and Zynga claims the slots division closed out the quarter stronger than it started.
Zynga expects its February acquisition of Harpan’s Solitaire product will add some oomph to its other casino products. The company claims to already be seeing “strong affinity” between Solitaire and Zynga’s Casual and Social Casino audiences.
Zynga said it expects to lose another $6m in Q2 due to continued sluggishness in advertising sales and declines in web-based activity and older games. But Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau said the company’s turnaround was gaining steam and he told Games Industry Biz that “I expect that we will be profitable in the very near future.”