Zynga revamps hit 'Words With Friends' game

Cars drive by the Zynga headquarters on July 25, 2013 in San Francisco, California
Cars drive by the Zynga headquarters on July 25, 2013 in San Francisco, California

Pioneering social games maker Zynga on Thursday launched a new version of "Words With Friends" as the company strives to regain its footing in the mobile device age.

The revamped application, marking the game's fifth anniversary, has several including solo play offline and a dictionary for learning words, Zynga said in a statement.

The game, which is akin to Scrabble, has become the top free of all time at Apple's online App Store, Zynga said, and the title is billed as the world's most popular word puzzle, with some 55 million matches happening at any time.

The "Words With Friends" upgrade comes as Zynga's new chief executive Don Mattrick tries to revive the company that leapt to stardom with games tailored for Facebook but was knocked off stride by a shift to play on .

Zynga in August vowed to perform better, as its reported losses widened and revenues sank in the second quarter.

The loss for the quarter deepened to $62.5 million, compared with a deficit of $15.8 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenues dropped sharply to $153 million in the three months ending June 30, from $230 million a year earlier.

The San Francisco company recently announced a new line of sports games under the brand "Zynga Sports 365."

Zynga said it signed a licensing deal with the National Football League and NFL Players Inc. to use real NFL teams and athletes, as well as a multi-year partnership with Tiger Woods for golf-themed games expected to debut on mobile devices in 2015.

Zynga has also announced a deal with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to license the Looney Tunes brand for mobile games, expected to be launched later this year.

"We are further diversifying our product portfolio in order to reach more consumers and widen our demographic across more entertainment genres," Mattrick said during an earnings call.

More than 7.7 billion "Words With Friends" games have been played, with the top five scoring cities listed as Makati, Philippines; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Kingston, Jamaica; Singapore, and the Northern California coastal city of Santa Cruz.

© 2014 AFP

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