Zynga's Indiana Jones Adventure World game has more than half a million active users a month. It's free to play, if you don't mind spamming your friends, "I need to go and ask, uh, eleven friends. Or I could buy it for 50 Zynga dollars," said one user.
Zynga counts on a certain number of users paying the money, though most just ask their friends. It's free marketing. But it doesn't pay Zynga's bills. And so with the company now bleeding money, Indiana Jones is joining ten other Facebook-based Zynga games that are getting the axe.
"Zynga's in huge trouble and they've been in trouble for a while now," GamesBeat Editor-in-Chief Dan "Shoe" Hsu said.
According to Hsu, unlike a retail game you'd buy at a store, Zynga spends a lot of money just maintaining its online games after they're released.
"It has to be constantly updated, right, they're always adding new things for players to go get," Hsu said. "So they have to build those things. Some artist has to draw these things, some programmer has to implement it."
And so if players aren't spending money, Hsu says Zynga is losing money.
It's been the case with Mafia Wars 2, PetVille, and FishVille, all freshly discontinued despite a vocal online outcry from players who want them back.
Though a few players are complaining loudly, a quick survey of a few casual gamers at a coffee shop will tell you everything you need to know about why Zynga's pulling the plug on those games. When asked what platform they use to play games, most users said they mostly play on their phones. It's yet another indication that gaming is going mobile.
Five months ago, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus admitted they've struggled with the transition, "We've spent the last couple of years trying to figure out the right formula for a crossover between web and mobile," Pincus said.
Though Zynga would only talk to us on background today, they referred us to the company's last earnings call in which Pincus told investors part of that formula is saying goodbye to some older web games to focus on the phone.