Zynga to Put Words With Friends-Style Game on Google Nest Devices in Bid to Lure Nongamers
Zynga Inc. signage is displayed outside of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Zynga to Put Words With Friends-Style Game on Google Nest Devices in Bid to Lure Nongamers

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Zynga Inc., whose games are typically played on mobile phones and tablets, is jumping onto a new platform: Google Nest Hub and other Google Assistant-connected devices.

A new voice-based puzzle game for Google’s smart-home gadgets, called Daily Word Wheel, will offer an anagram puzzle in the style of Words With Friends. It’s just the latest attempt by Zynga to broaden its appeal. With its games already available on phones, tablets and PCs, it’s now embracing a platform that people use to monitor security cameras and control the lights.

“We are experimenting, and we are learning,” Bernard Kim, president of publishing at Zynga, said in an interview. “We really believe in the growth of these platforms.”

The hope is to entice people who might not normally seek out video games. Zynga already has a presence on Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa, and it’s pondering more ideas. There’s a joke inside the company, Kim said: If Zynga can find new customers by putting games on a refrigerator or toaster, that’s just what it’ll do.

Zynga has seen demand soar this year, thanks in part to pandemic lockdowns. It’s also made a string of acquisitions that will help push annual revenue well past $2 billion this year. Now it’s looking to maintain the momentum.

With the free game for Google devices, players are given a five-letter word bank from which to create as many combinations as possible. They can say the words or spell them using the touch screen. Players also can use voice commands to ask for hints, shuffle the letters or receive instructions.

Many people remain stuck at home because of Covid-19 and may be willing to try playing games on different devices.

“What’s really nice about it is, it could introduce nongamers into the market,” Kim said.

Google Nest Hub is a touch-screen system that lets people control other gadgets inside their home, view photos or even watch Netflix. The hub already offers a number of games, such as CoolGames’ Guess the Drawing. There are 68 million active Google Nests and Nest Hubs worldwide, including 32 million units sold in 2020, according to estimates from Loup Ventures.

Mobile games have already seen the biggest jump in revenue of all gaming segments because of Covid, according to research firm Newzoo. That’s given a lift to Zynga’s shares, which are up 42% this year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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