It is a sad week in the realm of social gamers worldwide. Within the ranks of the browser-based game developer, Zynga, there have been numerous events in response to the myriad of legal and internal issues the company has been faced with recently. The most recent notable action was taken by the company’s Chief Operating Officer, John Schappert, who decided to step down and remove himself completely from Zynga’s staff.
Though it may seem like a rash decision at first, Schappert’s decision comes on the heels of a complete restructuring within the company that had the former COO’s responsibilities stripped from him completely. This move changed the chain of command and relocated the reporting of mobile head David Ko and game development head Steve Chiang to Zynga’s CEO, Mark Pincus. In a recent statement to CNN Money, Pincus confirmed Schappert’s actions. “We can confirm that John Schappert has left Zynga and its Board of Directors effective immediately,” Pincus said in his statement. “John has made significant contributions to the games industry throughout his career and we appreciate all that he has done for Zynga. John leaves as a friend of the company and we wish him all the best.”
Though the developer holds rank over Facebook’s most popular game applications, recent reports have shown that its 292 million active users are done little to prevent a decrease in stock prices. The stripping of Schappert’s duties was an apparent attempt made by Zynga to counteract the lack of investor interest. Michael Pachter, an analyst at the financial services and investment firm Wedbush, thinks the company’s decision to strip Schappert of his job was not for the best and may not have the effect they hoped it to have. “Allowing the only seasoned industry executive on your management team to leave is not going to generate greater confidence among investors,” Pachter explained. “They certainly have lost a tremendous amount of adult supervision. I think that’s a mistake.”
Amidst the numerous troubles Zynga has faced in the past few months was an infringement suite filed by Electronic Arts stating that the company’s The Ville game was an “unmistakable copy” of EA’s popular The Sims Social. The lawsuit came shortly after Schappert left his executive job at the well known (and often controversial) video game developer. Shortly after loosing the purpose of his position as COO, Schappert was also reported to have sold half of his stock, leading to a class action law-suit and investigations into potential insider trading.
Zynga is the developer behind such annoyingly popular titles as CityVille, FarmVille, Zynga Poker (and Bingo), and Hidden Chronicles. Anyone with an account on Facebook has had some sort of interaction with these titles whether to deny the intrusive application access to their page or to join in on the interactive fun. While the company may have plenty of fans, there are those that would be willing to do without a world of constant notifications and game “requests” on their Facebook wall.