"Right now, I'm pretty bored with all games." That's Mark Pincus, founder of Farmville company Zynga, as he spoke with an assemblage of tech entrepreneurs in Israel last night. Bored? More like not paying attention. It's an incredibly exciting time in game development now, Mr. Pincus. All you need to do to see that is take a look around. Here's some help.
The Wall Street Journal article where that quote came from notes that Pincus had the chance to correct or elaborate on his statement but didn't. That's a bit worrisome for a man in his position. Sure, Pincus may have shifted his role at the company after former Xbox head Don Mattrick became CEO but games are supposed to be Zynga's lifeblood. It's troubling to think that he hasn't overheard some developers in his company's ever-shrinking ranks talking about, say, The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V or Tomb Raider. At least drop a few names to keep up appearances, Mark!
Ok, yes: Pincus never seemed like the kind of guy who sits down at a PC or a game console every night. But he's missing a whole lot of important developments. Even the most AAA-averse industry folks should be aware of things like Call of Duty: Strike Team, the iFruit companion app for GTA V or Watch Dogs' mobile-vs-console asymmetrical multiplayer.
And, of course, there's a wave of new hardware coming — the PS4, Xbox One, Valve's Steam Machines and their crazy controller — that could change the way video games manifest themselves in the living room.
Zynga's shaky future depends on getting big wins in the mobile space. So games like Infinity Blade III or Where's My Water 2 should be on his radar, too. And if he wants to reckon with the creative possibilities of game-making, then releases like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Gone Home, and Papers, Please should be on Pincus' agenda.
Bottom line: there's loads of sharp, creative stuff happening in games now. Maybe, just maybe, Zynga wouldn't be in such a terrible state — trading just below $US4/share after an initial $US10/valuation — if its top guy was more excited about games.
Photo by Jeff Chiu / AP Photo