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:
- A former full-time Zynga engineer who has quit, suggesting that Zynga is guilty as charged for the crimes listed above
- 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.