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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InfophileI know the ZE series was in the red in Japan, but international series boosted it to profitability. That may not mean it's more profitable in the west, but it does mean ZE3 wouldn't exist without the western market.07/04/2015 - 7:54am
Consterwhy aren't "Video game players" an option on the poll? :P07/04/2015 - 5:19am
Andrew EisenThat was quick! Pretty accurate cosplay of the new Ghostbuster uniform and proton pack: https://twitter.com/mirabellemusing/status/61673135125394227207/03/2015 - 6:23pm
Matthew Wilson@mast I dont know, but I do know it got a cult fallowing here.07/03/2015 - 6:22pm
MastermuneWasn't the Zero Escape series more popular here than in Japan?07/03/2015 - 6:19pm
Matthew Wilson@mast given the game was revealed in the US, I wouldnt be shocked if it was released at the same time.07/03/2015 - 6:15pm
MastermuneI don't trust the big AAA worldwide simultaneous releases though.07/03/2015 - 5:57pm
Mastermune@Infophile I have come to the conclusion that smaller games like zero escape, JRPG's and the like are actually worth preordering sinc they are limited quantities and since they usually release in japan first we know if there are any issues.07/03/2015 - 5:56pm
Infophile@Matthew! Awesome news. I'd preorder on that shout alone if I didn't have a policy against preordering anymore.07/03/2015 - 5:16pm
Matthew Wilsonzero escape 3 was announced today.07/03/2015 - 4:21pm
Matthew Wilson@pnx I am guessing a ddoss since that is what happened to neogaf, but sony needs to do a investment in psn as a whole. steam is still the most reliable and fastest digital platform I use.07/03/2015 - 3:06pm
PHX Corphttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/psn-is-down-sony-investigating/ not again: PSN is down, Sony investigating07/03/2015 - 3:04pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/digital-extremes-trespasser-keystone-pc/ if true, this is funny and embarrassing for Digital Extremes. companies need too have better security.07/03/2015 - 2:57pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-destiny-the-hardcore-gamers-slot-machine/2300-6425852/ this is very good, and well researched.07/03/2015 - 12:41pm
InfophileOther features to become standard: The ability to remap controls however the hell I want. Quicksave at any time (especially for handheld and mobile games). Plus everything Andrew said07/03/2015 - 10:43am
InfophileRegion-freeing becomes tricky for games with a strong online component though, especially when the servers are run by different branches in different regions.07/03/2015 - 10:41am
InfophileI'm in favor of getting rid of region-locking for any purchased games. I can understand an exception for free, ad-supported games, as many ads are only relevant in certain regions, and it's a ridiculous hassle to get ads for all regions.07/03/2015 - 10:40am
PHX Corphttp://kotaku.com/payday-2-has-been-broken-on-xbox-one-for-three-weeks-1715384186 Payday 2 Has Been Broken On Xbox One For Three Weeks07/03/2015 - 8:44am
Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/3bxduw/why_was_riama_along_with_a_number_of_other_large/ here is a more complete acount of whats going on.07/03/2015 - 1:32am
Matthew Wilsonredit is on fire right now. most subreddits have been set to private.07/03/2015 - 1:24am
 

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