Zynga's been wrapped up in a whole lot of not-so-awesome news as of late. The tumble in the eyes of gamers restarted most recently when the head of NimbleBit, the developers of Tiny Tower, drafted up an open letter to Zynga that accused them of stealing ideas for games.
Zynga responded to those accusations with the assertion that they aren't thieves, but genre polishers …whatever that means.
Reddit has within it a subreddit called IAMA; users can post threads for themselves within this section where they offer up who they are and let people ask them, typically, anything. A thread popped up over the weekend that saw someone stand up as a former Zynga employee willing to share information about his old company. His submission: IAmA Former FullTime Zynga Engineer => quit 6 months ago. Not a contractor, (Z treats em like ****).
Now, the whole thread is fascinating if you're interested in either the social games side of the industry or the industry as a whole. This Redditor revealed all sorts of non-senese about Zynga throughout the length of the IAMA, and some of it is downright disturbing. Here are a few of the strangest and most alarming responses…
Here's the submitter's response when asked about the aforementioned drama between NimbleBit and Zynga:
Tiny Tower + D Heights is all standard operating procedure here. If you can't buy em, clone em. Even the core technology for FarmVille (MyMiniLife), was bought. The only "homegrown" codebases at Zynga is MafiaWars2 and maybe Poker, the rest of their tech was just bought from small studios. Lookup Dextrose Engine. To me, that's utterly creepy. They try to choke out the competition by gating all these engines and tech.
And here's the response regarding "creepy" stuff Zynga's doing behind the scenes:
Spying on players. Getting intimate gaming data, their habits, their networks, and how to effectively monetize given X.
Another issue was skewing gameplay for the sake of profit, example; I actually resorted to BAD MATH, to make the case for making a feature more fun. At the end of one sprint, a QA dude was complaining about the drop rate of a specific item being absurdly insane, and therefore UnFun. I looked at the code, and tweaked some values, gave it back to QA guy, and fun was restored. Product Manager overrides this, goes for unfun, yet more profitable version.
Check out the thread linked above and below. It's, quite honestly, jarring.