An Ex-Zynga Engineer Is Ripping The Company Apart In Plain Sight

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Whales, abusing contractors, and pushing metrics.

That’s pretty much all Zynga is about, according to a former engineer.

An ex-engineer who was there about six months ago is opening up on an “ask-me-anything” question and answer thread in Reddit.

The employee apparently left the company because he (or she) didn’t like the direction it was moving in — focusing on metrics and expansion rather than actual gameplay.

As usual, this is an ex-engineer that left the company because he or she wasn’t satisfied — so take the claims with a grain of salt. 

Here are some of the other highlights from the thread. Some of this is already suspected to be true:

  • Zynga’s “whales,” who spend more than $10,000 on its games, are labelled “Zynga Black.” One Mafia Wars “whale” has spent around $100,000. They are the “hardcore” crowd Zynga caters to, and every other player is treated as a spammer.
  • The engineer said, “They are trying to make their own social network for games. Steam is their main competitor in that realm.” We’ve known Zynga is working on its own site for its social games, but that comment suggests Zynga could run other companies’ games instead of just their own on the network. 
  • Product Managers rely on metrics more for office politics, not science, not game design. Zynga is a marketing company, not a games company.
  • The amount of code for analysing metrics “dwarfs” the size of the game’s production code.
  • Zynga has special access to Facebook’s API news — basically, when Facebook will make changes to the way it works — and fewer restrictions on “spamming.”
  • Contract workers have almost no feedback or say on their work schedule, and aren’t welcome to company events.

We’ve reached out to Zynga, who hasn’t commented on the response just yet.

Heard any stories like this at Zynga or another social gaming company in Silicon Valley? Shoot us a message at [email protected]

See Also: What Happened To The Founding Team Behind Zynga

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