In recent months, embattled game developer Zynga has suffered its fair share of setbacks, including a high-profile round of mass layoffs in October, resulting in a 5 per cent reduction in the company's overall staff. At that time the company's CEO, Mark Pincus, also revealed that he was considering shuttering the company's Japan and UK operations. Now, with just about a week left in 2012, Zynga Japan has confirmed that it will be closing its doors.
Although the first hints regarding the possible closing of the company's Japan office came from Pincus, the actual confirmation arrived today from the CEO of Zynga Japan, Kenji Matsubara via his Facebook account. First spotted by Japan technology consultant Serkan Toto, Matsubara's message, written in Japanese, offers thanks to the company's customers and announces that the company will be officially closed by the end of January.
Launched in 2010 with a $150 million (£92 million) investment from Softbank, Zynga Japan was seen as the company's best bet to crack the Asia gaming market. However, Matsubara, a veteran of Hitachi, Oracle Japan, and gaming company Tecmo Koei, was unable to marshal the company's forces to land a bona fide hit in the famously competitive Japanese gaming market. Despite the unit's considerable resources, as recently as last month, the company decided to shut down three of its four Japan titles, essentially foreshadowing this announcement.
A visit to the Zynga Japan's website now only displays a stark message confirming Zynga Japan's end. 31 January 2013 will be the company's last day of operation. Currently, the Zynga US site offers no indication that anything has changed regarding its Asia operations, and Pincus has yet to weigh in on the closing. Nevertheless, Zynga Japan's failure is not an indication of a tepid social gaming market in Japan. Local players like DeNA and Gree are currently experiencing explosive growth domestically, and both companies are currently expanding their successful gaming platforms into the international market place.