How Zynga Inc Can Use the Fire Phone

Zynga could meld its acquired gaming technology with Amazon's new smartphone feature -- if the tech proves popular.

Jun 25, 2014 at 7:27AM

Clumsy Ninja Zynga

Source: NaturalMotion. (NASDAQ:AMZN) unveiled its long-anticipated smartphone last Wednesday. The Fire Phone featured the expected Android OS and a year subscription to Amazon Prime. But the most buzzworthy feature was Dynamic Perspective, a 3D-esque way that the screen's view can adjust to the position of the user's head.

If Dynamic Perspective proves popular, Amazon could start a new smartphone technology race. And that race could end up benefiting social game company Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA).

How would Dynamic Perspective help the creator of FarmVille bring the world 3D cartoon corn? Here's how Dynamic Perspective could turn Zynga into an even greater disrupter of the social gaming platform. 

What is Amazon's Dynamic Perspective? 
Dynamic Perspective is essentially 3D -- but not the grainy, awkward technology found in the cinematic classic Jaws 3D or poorly received prior mobile attempts such as 2011s HTC Evo 3D. Amazon developed Dynamic Perspective to follow the position of the user's head and the response depends on the app in use. A real estate app, for example, might allow users to peer around corners of listing images to see more of the house. 

How was Dynamic Perspective built? Amazon studied a plethora of human faces to develop a program that's good at recognizing the user's head from the background. Four front-facing cameras (one on each corner) can then track the movement of the user's head to use as a control. Aside from enhancing the functionality of apps, Dynamic Perspective also allows users to swipe down or across pages with just a flick of the neck. 

There's still the chance that Dynamic Perspective could prove glitchy and dizzying for users. Sneeze and race to the end of your e-book! Take a 3D tour of the Empire State Building, complete with vertigo! But if Dynamic Perspective proves popular with users, other smartphone developers will race to push out similar technologies.

And that environment would provide rich soil for Zynga's future growth.

Zynga's natural motion
Amazon discussed the potential gaming applications of Dynamic Perspective during the Fire Phone launch event. demonstrated a game where players can run and navigate with mere head movements, and launch a special flip with a brisk nod. The expanded navigational options and enhanced graphical options open more doors for companies like -- and Zynga's NaturalMotion. 

Zynga announced its $527 million acquisition of NaturalMotion in its fourth-quarter report. NaturalMotion currently has the popular mobile games CSR Racing and Clumsy Ninja, but the company more importantly has the Euphoria game engine, which was used in the development of hit console games including Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.  

NaturalMotion explains the benefit of Euphoria: 

Euphoria represents a step ... toward creating truly believable characters, worlds and games. Instead of playing back canned animation, Euphoria uses the CPU to generate motion on the fly by simulating a character's motor nervous system, body and muscles...

Euphoria allows characters to dynamically synthesize motion in response to events around them. For example, protecting themselves from a heavy fall or reacting to gunfire... 

Euphoria has an established history in console titles but made its mobile debut in Clumsy Ninja. A harder push into mobile would make sense considering Zynga's aspirations in that market. 

The potential for Euphoria in mobile games becomes even more interesting with Dynamic Perspective's possibilities. Competitor King Digital Entertainment is already working on a version of the Candy Crush Saga that works with Amazon's new technology. But Zynga utilizing Euphoria with Dynamic Perspective would push the company away from the cartoon styled free-to-play games of Zynga's past and King's present. 

Foolish final thoughts 
Zynga could still fumble its NaturalMotion acquisition by keeping that business separate from the tried-and-true social games, while failing to innovate. Moving NaturalMotion's technologies further into the mobile sphere and potentially melding Euphoria with Dynamic Perspective (if Amazon's new toy proves popular) would send the signal that Zynga wants to play a new type of game.

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