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Zynga launches mobile FarmVille in turnaround attempt

Zynga Inc. is betting the farm on mobile games. 

The San Francisco online casual video game maker has struggled in recent years as players have gravitated toward smartphones and tablets for their gaming fix, rather than Zynga's Facebook-based offerings.

Now the company has finally released the first mobile version of its key FarmVille franchise, called "FarmVille 2: Country Escape."

So yes, FarmVille is officially not just for Facebook anymore, and that's part of a larger push by the company to take advantage of the demand for mobile games evidenced by the recent popularity of titles such as "Candy Crush Saga" and "Flappy Bird."

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In fact, Zynga says 75% of its in-the-works games are primarily for mobile devices. The company expects new mobile versions of its "Words With Friends" and "Zynga Poker" games to land in the coming months as well. 

This comes amid a turnaround attempt for the company led by Chief Executive Don Mattrick, nine months into the job. It recently brought on former Best Buy Senior Vice President David Lee to be its chief financial officer.

The company's stock price has increased about 20% in the last 12 months as its losses have narrowed. For the year that ended Dec. 31, the company posted a loss of $37 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of $209 million, or 28 cents a share, during 2012. 

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The market may not be exactly frothy for mobile gaming though. King Digital Entertainment, maker of "Candy Crush Saga," raised $500 million in an initial public offering in March, but its Wednesday closing stock price of $18.03 a share is down 20% from its offering price of $22.50.

Zynga has also released a series of factoids on its 5-year-old FarmVille franchise.

Some examples: The company counts 37 "FarmVille 2" players in the Vatican. There's also one "FarmVille 2" player in Antarctica.

No word on how well the mobile version's gameplay works with snow gloves. 

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com
Twitter: @rfaughnder

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