Zynga Helsinki closing, underperforming FarmVille 3 moves to Bengaluru


Zynga Helsinki is closing and FarmVille 3 production is being moved to Zynga Bengaluru, we understand.

Our sources suggest that around a third of Zynga Helsinki’s staff – 10-12 people – departed earlier this year in anticipation of the expected closure. Some left due to what one person described as “serious leadership problems” at the studio, and others because they were unhappy with the work produced by what was then the support team in Bengaluru, India.

FarmVille 3 has also not performed as well as expected. With the India team staffing up, few were surprised when the closure was announced to the remaining 20 or so staff over the summer.

Those still working at the studio have been given the chance to take up work at fellow Zynga-owned studios Gram Games and Small Giant. Some did, but others left to take up roles at nearby Metacore, Supercell and elsewhere.

New at Netflix: former Zynga Helsinki folks Marko Lastikka, Antti Lepistö, Alexander Chernykh, Oskari Teittinen and Jaakko Koskela.

Our sources say that former Zynga Helsinki boss Marko Lastikka has also taken four staff with him to help build Netflix’s new Helsinki studio, namely creative director Antti Lepistö, art director Alexander Chernykh, principal engineer Oskari Teittinen and senior server architect Jaakko Koskela.

All five, including Lastikka, were also core members of the SimCity BuildIt team at EA Helsinki, and moved en masse to Zynga Helsinki when it was founded by Lastikka in 2017 to make FarmVille 3.

Zynga had been staffing up the FarmVille 3 support team in Bengaluru since late 2021, and by spring this year the team in India had grown to over 40, outnumbering the Helsinki staff, we’re told.

Among its other responsibilities as a support studio, Zynga Bengaluru runs marginal portfolio titles and games about to be sunsetted, one source said. But the move does not necessarily mean FarmVille 3 will be closed down.

A separate source suggested that FarmVille 3 was moved to India so that the Zynga Helsinki team could start work on a new game. But with no live game funding the studio and new Zynga owner Take-Two keen to cut costs, internal support for Zynga Helsinki faded, and it was closed.

FarmVille was once Zynga’s flagship franchise, but the third game has not met expectations.

Zynga’s new owner Take-Two recently also closed New York-based studio Playdots, maker of Two Dots, having acquired it two years ago for $192m.

FarmVille 3 launched worldwide on November 4th 2021, and has earned Zynga almost $30m to date, according to Appmagic data. It has pulled in over $2m per month since launch, but revenue has been declining since July. Last month FarmVille 3 pulled in $1.96m, its lowest monthly return since launch.

Lifetime downloads of FarmVille 3 stand at almost 12m to date, and monthly downloads have hovered around 400k since June this year.

We contacted Take-Two and Zynga for comment on this story several times but have yet to receive any response. We have also contacted Netflix for clarification on their team set-up. We will update this story if we get any further information or comment.

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