Zynga will introduce Bubble Safari, its first arcade-style game on Wednesday. The game combines Zynga’s social dynamics with a game that looks and feels like something you might have stumbled upon in the old coin-operated arcades in your local mall back in the 1980s.
The development of Bubble Safari was overseen by Mark Turmell, senior creative director at Zynga’s San Diego office. Turmell left EA Sports last July to join Zynga. In an interview, Turmell said his background was in arcade games and eventually he became best known for the game NBA Jams.
“I joined Zynga to bring those learnings and experiences to the company,” said Mark Turmell, senior creative director at Zynga’s San Diego office.
The main character in this game is Bubbles, a monkey living in the jungle when his friends are captured by poachers. Bubble has to journey across the jungle to rescue them. But to get energy for the journey he has to collect fruit and overcome various obstacles. The main action involves directing Bubbles to shoot a kind of cannon at bubbles and fruit above him.
A couple of interesting things to note about the new game. Besides being a new style, Bubble Safari is the first game to launch on both Facebook and Zynga’s own gaming platform, Zynga.com, at the same time. The Facebook-Zynga relationship is probably one of the most closely watched in social media because of the extraordinary co-dependency and the looming Facebook IPO. It will be interesting to see how play breaks down between Facebook and Zynga’s own platform.
It’s also another sign of how, six months into its life as a public company, Zynga continues to expand aggressively in a variety of directions. The knock against Zynga is that it is too “hit-driven,” like a movie studio. So expanding the number of offerings is certainly critical to becoming less dependent on mega-hits like CityVille and FarmVille.
As part of that diversification, Zynga shocked observers back in March by paying $200 million to acquire mobile game developer OMGPOP which had seen its new game, “Draw Something,” catch fire. More recently, there have been questions about whether the company acted in haste as it appears the game is losing some momentum.
Zynga’s stock was trading at $7.76 per share early Tuesday, down from $9.50 where it closed on its first day for trading in December, and down from its $10 IPO price.