Zynga’s Stock Is Up — And Why Every Other Game Company Stock Is Down

Zynga is bucking market trends today and is trading higher — despite a report that came out yesterday suggesting that December sales were extremely weak across the industry.

Zynga was up 42 cents, or almost 5 percent today, to close at $8.87 a share.

That’s a huge reversal from earlier this week when the stock nosedived to an all-time low. Meanwhile, none of the traditional game makers were having such a good day.

Electronic Arts closed down $1.47, or 7.5 percent, to $18.04 a share; THQ fell 7 percent to 66 cents a share; Take-Two Interactive fell .5 percent to $14.50 a share; and industry-leading Activision Blizzard slipped 2.5 percent $12.24 a share. GameStop also traded lower, finishing off the day down 2.8 percent to $23.51 a share.

The game makers were universally feeling the impact of an NPD Group report that revealed yesterday that videogame software sales fell 8 percent in December compared to the same month in 2010. When including hardware and accessories, like game cards, the entire industry contracted by 21 percent year over year.

Potentially, investors were betting that if the traditional game-makers weren’t fairing well, then Zynga was a good bet. The leading Facebook game-maker operates purely online and on mobile, so it potentially would be more isolated from the retail and packaged goods sectors.

The old guard vs. new guard battle also played out on the front lines yesterday.

EA was dealt an additional blow when Zynga announced it had hired away Barry Cottle, head of Electronic Arts’ Interactive division. Cottle, who was in charge of the company’s digital strategy, including social and mobile games, was EA’s biggest weapon in fighting Zynga’s dominance on Facebook and had led EA’s rise on mobile.

But EA’s loss was Zynga’s gain.

The social games leader appointed Cottle to the position of EVP of business and corporate development in charge of new global partnerships, acquisitions and other development roles.

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