Zynga has been seeing more than its fair share of questionable publicity lately concerning the blatant ripping off of games like Tiny Tower. When an alleged ex-Zynga employee took to Reddit yesterday to divulge the inner workings of the game giant, it did nothing to help Zynga’s case.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Reddit, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what it is and how it works. Most basically, Reddit is a website that is made up almost exclusively of user submitted content. Users post links, photos, questions, videos, etc. into categories called subreddits, and other users will upvote the posts they like and downvote the posts they don’t. The front page of Reddit consists of the most popular posts. And yesterday, one of those posts was an ‘Ask Me Anything’ post from a user who claimed to be a former engineer for Zynga. Since Reddit is the home of pretty much the funniest people on the Internet, shit got real up in that thread real quick.
People immediately started asking questions about what he thought about the Tiny Tower versus Dream Heights ordeal, and what kind of things went on behind closed doors at Zynga. Some of the answers were unsurprising, and some of them were just plain unsettling:[quote] 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. [/quote]
The guy who started the thread has since apologized and deleted some of his comments, but it’s still available to read. If you’re at all interested in this kind of juicy information, I recommend taking some time to read through all of the comments.
Personally, Zynga has always kind of left a foul taste in my mouth, and if this guy was legit, this rare insight into a giant gaming company has only made it worse. With the amount of money and manpower a company like Zynga has, it boggles my mind how lazy and not creative they seem to be.