FarmVillians, or the Art of Stealing

September 8, 2010 -

In a new article called "FarmVillians" in SF Weekly a former Zynga employee paints an unflattering picture of CEO Mark Pincus, putting one of his more famous quotes in context. The basic thrust of the article is that Pincus encouraged developers to copy Zynga's competitors and dealt with the fallout later by settling matters out of court.

The article also points out why Zynga finds itself in a lawsuit with mobile game maker Digital Chocolate . Here's an interesting bit from the article about Pincus speaking at UC Berkley:

Critical tech bloggers had a field day with a talk Pincus gave to aspiring entrepreneurs at a UC Berkeley event last March, during which he claimed he "did every horrible thing in the book just to get revenues right away" when Zynga was founded. Yet in May, he was the subject of an admiring profile in Details magazine, which portrayed him as a plainspoken capitalist beset with sour-grapes complaints.

But the quote that really stands out, as an ex-employee recalls, was Pincus talking about innovation:

"I don't fucking want innovation," the ex-employee recalls Pincus saying. "You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."

One contractor says he was offered freelance work from Zynga, related to mimicking a competitor's application, with explicit instructions: "Copy that game."

"I was around meetings where things like that were being discussed, and the ramifications of things like that were being discussed - the fact that they'd probably be sued by the people who designed the game," he says. "And the thought was, 'Well, that's fine, we'll settle.' Our case wasn't really defensible." Psycho Monkey's suit was ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount.

The former senior employee who was present for Pincus' "No innovation" diatribe described Zynga's business model this way: "Steal somebody else's game, throw millions of dollars at it, and then, if it doesn't have it already, add virtual coins."

Certainly that is an unvarnished look at how Zynga operates - if you believe that Pincus said those things..

Source: Libe Goad


Comments

Re: FarmVillians, or the Art of Stealing

None of this is a surprise in the least.

Re: FarmVillians, or the Art of Stealing

Very good article.  To me and the people I know, saying Zynga and Mark Pincus are scumbags is like saying the sun rises in the East but hopefully this article will inform more people on what an ethicless company that is.  I hope their star is fading not just beacuse of that but because what they call a "game" is really just a pointless progress bar that you pay to advance but which never gets to 100%.  It is not gaming, it's work and I think a horrible trend to encourage.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
www.digital-lifeline.ca

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Re: FarmVillians, or the Art of Stealing

The sad part is that this kind of thing is profitable. This is the opposite of a patent troll. This is the kind of pirate that IP laws should be targeting.

But guess what, a lot of businesses operate this way. Copy the GUI, copy the function, I don't want inovation, I want it close enough that consumers don't know one from the other. We have no customers now, they have all the customers. Any that we steal will be more then we had before.

 

 
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AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
SleakerI think a large part of the controversy stems from the idea that games aren't culture setters, but culture reactors, and simply depict what is already in culture. So people don't care that games use tropes or are blind to them because we've failed ...08/29/2014 - 12:20pm
 

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