Social gaming pioneer Zynga’s been through the wringer lately-falling stock price, revenue issues, and an exodus of top talent. Well, Zynga does have a talent backbench and while many high-level staffers ran for the exits, Zynga has a crop of talent to take their place. The departure of Zynga’s Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu last August caused quite a bit of a ripple for many observers of Zynga. First, Verdu occupied a very sensitive role-directing the creative direction of the company. For a game company, creative direction is particularly crucial since games need a lot of, duh, creativity. If that isn’t challenging enough, the Chief Creative Officer must keep his or her finger on the pulse of ever changing game trends.
Zynga’s replacement for Verdu is Tim LeTourneau. He was promoted from within the ranks of the company. He previously handled Farmville 2 as games VP. Considering how successful Farmville 2′s launch was, it’s very easy to understand why Zynga felt confident enough about LeTourneau’s capabilities to promote him to the head creative honcho slot. He will be relinquishing much of the day to day operations of Farmville 2 to focus more on the state of Zynga’s game design. Zynga definitely needs a quarterback for all its creative developments because the company needs to stay ahead of the curve or risk running behind nimblers, smaller, leaner, and yes, hungrier games competitors. As we have written about earlier, there is a sea change going on right now in the social games space. In fact, there are serious issues inherent in social game design which will make sure companies like Zynga have their work cut out for them. Among observers of the social gaming space, there is a debate between which type of company is better able to handle the rapid changes in the space-small startups focused on just one or two games or large networks like Zynga with huge product lines and huge costs. The jury is still out but we are sure we’ll know the answer soon enough.