"I think the business needed an overhaul and needed to expand beyond a social gaming company — and Don's in the process of doing that," says PJ McNealy, founder of Digital World Research. "They're buying IP that will roll out over the next six,12,18, 24 months."
There are, of course, still plenty of risks and hurdles for Zynga. The company still has a small presence in the mobile gaming world. And the market leadership it once enjoyed has dissipated. (King.com is now the top gaming company on Facebook, which has historically been Zynga's chief revenue source.) On top of that, gamer interest in all Web-based games seem to be fading as mobile offers a more compelling experience.
And while the company has posted encouraging numbers lately, it has yet to show it can be consistently profitable. And, like many of its competitors, the majority of its players don't pay a dime for its games. Analysts estimate that less than 2 percent of its monthly unique users are cash contributors.
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Game companies live and die on their software, though. Zynga is already in the process of attempting to reinvigorate its biggest franchises—such as "Farmville" and "Words With Friends." And the acquisition of NaturalMotion should let it speed its expansion into mobile, with a focus on the racing and people simulation genres.
And that, in part, is what has piqued the curiosity of analysts.
"I wouldn't bet against them," McNealy says. "I think they're buying compelling IP."
— By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC