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Zynga bets on licensed games with Harry Potter, ‘Game of Thrones’

Christopher Palmeri


 /  Thu, November 1, 2018  /  05:36 pm
Zynga bets on licensed games with Harry Potter, ‘Game of Thrones’

A still from 'Game of Thrones.' (HBO/File)

Zynga Inc., the social-gaming pioneer, is doubling down on licensed content with a series of games tied to Harry Potter and “Game of Thrones.”

In a licensing deal with AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros., Zynga will publish a Harry Potter game in the second half of next year. The company also plans two games based on HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones,” the first of which will be a slot machine-like title.

Zynga popularized free games in which players purchase coins and other items. But the San Francisco-based company ran into trouble as competition multiplied in app stores.

Read also: Emilia Clarke wins ‘Game of Thrones’ role with robot dance

Chief Executive Officer Frank Gibeau said his initial focus since joining the company almost three years ago has been on its original content, such as Farmville, Zynga Poker and Words With Friends. Now he’s looking for growth from new titles, particularly licensed brands with built-in audiences and global appeal. While Zynga has to pay royalties to content owners, it saves on marketing because the brands have loyal followers, he said.

Zynga on Wednesday issued fourth-quarter guidance that trailed analysts’ estimates, in part due to a “Willy Wonka” game that’s been delayed by a month, Gibeau said. A “Star Wars” licensed game, first announced in August, is due in 2020, he said.