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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Should ‘sexism’ factor into a video game’s rating?:

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Andrew EisenNo but it is defaulting to a very low volume. Not muted though.11/20/2014 - 10:14pm
MaskedPixelanteIs anyone else experiencing this weird Youtube glitch where, no matter what you had the volume set at last time, it defaults to muted no matter what?11/20/2014 - 10:07pm
MechaTama31What was wrong with Remember Me? I liked that one... >.>11/20/2014 - 8:50pm
AvalongodI tend to see the violence and sexism issues as different. Historically we know that the violence issue is overblown. But sexism is real. Better representations of women in games WILL happen.11/20/2014 - 7:35pm
Andrew EisenAnd unless I completely missed it, there's nothing in there about "how Pokemon in general is sexist but you gotta look deep for it."11/20/2014 - 5:10pm
Andrew EisenSeriously, you're upset, irked and fearful over an opinion piece that suggests the Pokemon demo would be better with more options and a better-written female character? SERIOUSLY?!11/20/2014 - 5:07pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://gamasutra.com/blogs/PugetAlain/20141118/230420/Nearly_Ripped_off_to_death_by_a_publisher__Get_better_by_yourself_and_wait_for_justice_Maybe.php Topware screws over an indie studio because they can.11/20/2014 - 5:01pm
Andrew EisenAre you SURE you provided the right link?11/20/2014 - 4:59pm
prh99And yeah that sucks, especially when bonuses are tied to it, but that is more a problem with crappy publisher policies and scoring in general than any discussion on what may or may no be sexism in games.11/20/2014 - 4:59pm
prh99But no one is on their legislative high horse or on the litigation war path, for that matter. The biggest effect is that a reviewer might give it a lower score and drag down their meta critic ranking.11/20/2014 - 4:56pm
Wonderkarpyup11/20/2014 - 4:51pm
Andrew EisenOh for crying out loud. Wonderkarp, I apologize for how rude this question is but seriously, did you actually read that article?11/20/2014 - 4:47pm
Wonderkarpits a stigma. people in power hear this crap and start getting on their legislative high horse. but I feel like we've already paid too much attention too a demo.11/20/2014 - 4:46pm
Andrew EisenHarm gaming how?11/20/2014 - 4:35pm
Wonderkarpcause it gets parroted around and is used by people to harm gaming like Jack Thompsons did with Violence. http://www.themarysue.com/pokemon-oras-sexism/ here's the article.11/20/2014 - 4:28pm
Andrew EisenNo idea why such an opinion would upset or irk you so I'd be interested in reading it. Got a link?11/20/2014 - 4:13pm
Wonderkarplook deep for it....reaching much. those kinds of people are what urk me.11/20/2014 - 4:07pm
WonderkarpI got upset the other day when a known feminist blog wrote a large article on how the demo to Pokemon Omega Ruby was Sexist cause you couldnt play as a girl. It was a Demo....who cares? but they went off on how Pokemon in general is sexist but you gotta11/20/2014 - 4:06pm
Andrew EisenHere's the panel that Sarkeesian quote from earlier comes from. Amazing what the proper context does, isn't it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0qxtKz2vZw11/20/2014 - 3:32pm
NeenekoSomething to keep in mind, we tend to look at physics as 'hard', but math and physics are trivial compared to soc/psych (I have worked in both), but FEELS like it should be simplier.11/20/2014 - 3:17pm
 

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