Not so Evil? [Zynga]

Zynga, developer of social network hits as Farmville and Words with Friends, is regarded by many gamers as the Prime Evil of the gaming industry. Fairly or unfairly, they are reputed for creating generic repetitive skinner box games, purchasing independent studios to squeeze their successful titles for cash and plagiarizing game designs when they can’t.

There are always 2 sides to a story, so for the purposes of comparison, take a look at these 2 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” sessions with Zynga developers:

  1. A former full-time Zynga engineer who has quit, suggesting that Zynga is guilty as charged for the crimes listed above
  2. Two current Zynga game designers, proposing that Zynga is actually a great place to work, with a sound philosophy, and has greatly reformed over the last 12 months

It’s clear to me from even the positive stance of the current employees that the Zynga business structure is designed to quickly iterate cheap, addictive games with little to no substance behind them. It’s the sausage factory of video games.

Whilst Zynga games can be entertaining in short bursts, if we are to avoid a repetition of the video game crash of 1983, we need to ensure that the market is not saturated with low quality, limited interest games, creating the expectation that that is all games can ever be.

So please think carefully before giving Zynga any of your cash.


About bernardparsnip

Gamer, Blogger, Poet
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5 Responses to Not so Evil? [Zynga]

  1. Pai says:

    I only ever tried FrontierVille once, to give them a fair chance and to see if FB games were not really so awful. But it was pretty awful (and naggy! I never knew a game could nag you so much!)

    Maybe Zynga isn’t as bad as it was in terms of corporate culture, but their games are still terrible.

    • I played the Tiny Tower copy for a couple of days and couldn’t see what the point of continuing. There didn’t seem to be a goal to the game and the key mechanic of moving the lift upwards to the correct floor is painfully tedious.

  2. ctmurphy46 says:

    Give their rendition of the AOL classic Slingo a go. It’s stupid, but addicting in a strangely fun but not really fun sort of way. Pretty much like everything else, but it isn’t hidden behind a bad paint job of pop art and city planning and the incentive to spend, spend, spend feels a little more tempered.

    Slightly off topic, one of these days I may write a post on Facebook gaming that is worth a damn, but as a heads up, Tetris Battle is where it is at. I don’t think it is possible to be disappointed by that game.

    To me, Zynga is a perfect example of the ‘evils of capitalism’. Without getting more political than that, I think there really is something despicable about a company that creates a science out of extracting pennies from its customers without giving them any truly meaningful product in return. Add to that a love and appreciation for games as artforms, and Zynga really does appear to be a socially acceptable smut peddler and pornographer.

    Too strong?

  3. Vagabond says:

    Bernard, the way I see it is very similar to this. They have excellent technology, I used to read their tech blog to learn new stuff, but their games are bad and I’d not spend a dime on them.

    On a somewhat different note, there is a thing I’d like talk to you about. Is there a way to contact you privately? (such as, a message over twitter or similar?)

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