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FarmVilles or FarmVillians? Former employee says Zynga CEO encouraged workers to copy competitors

You know when Hollywood cons you into thinking a character is lovely and warm before revealing them to be a cold calculating villain by the end of the film? Well, if allegations from an anonymous source are to be believed, some would say FarmVille developer Zynga could be the real-world equivalent.

An ex-employee of the FarmVille team has recounted Zynga boss Mark Pincus' alleged words: "I don't fucking want innovation. You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."

Interviews conducted by SF Weekly with several former Zynga workers apparently indicated that stealing other companies' game ideas and then using the company's market clout to crowd out the games' originators was the norm.

The former employee went on to reveal Zynga's unofficial company motto of "Do Evil", which is an adaptation of Google's much friendlier "Don't Be Evil".



"I would venture to say it is one of the most evil places I've run into, from a culture perspective and in its business approach," the source said.

"I've tried my best to make sure that friends don't let friends work at Zynga."

FarmVille became popular via social networking on Facebook along with games like Mafia Wars, also developed by Zynga. Social media analyst Lou Kerner estimated that Zynga would be valued at $5 billion if the company were to go public in earlier this year.

Sep 9, 2010

Source: CVGSF WeeklyBusiness Insider 

15 comments

  • Cwf2008 - September 10, 2010 4:45 a.m.

    $5 billion?! those fucking morons at Zynga cant even fix a simple glitch! i mean if any other big name company had a puny little glitch and failed to fix it they would be the laughing stock of the planet!
  • xenon - September 10, 2010 12:14 a.m.

    Their habit of copying other games is well known and Pincus has openly admitted they used any dirty trick they could. No big news here. And Google's motto is utter bullshit, by the way. They're as evil as the others, but they're smarter.
  • ShaneCedt - September 9, 2010 11:57 p.m.

    My mom plays farmville
  • FNG - September 9, 2010 11:13 p.m.

    This isn't the first time I've heard about something like this.
  • DeadGirls - September 9, 2010 10:29 p.m.

    The facts that this story allege are well known among people here in SF who are involved in the gaming industry. I had a good friend who worked there, he said they treated their employees very well but everyone is very wary of them when it comes to putting your work out in public.
  • CoryRX8 - September 9, 2010 8:45 p.m.

    Not sure if it's true, but I wouldn't be surprised it it was. This is the very same company that copied Mob Wars, named their knockoff Mafia Wars, received a cease and desist from another company (Digital Chocolate) that had been using the name Mafia Wars for its own game since 2004, then turned around and tried to register a trademark for the name with the USPTO after being told that they were infringing. Awful, awful company. http://www.1up.com/news/zynga-sued-rival-developer-mafia
  • xynothan73 - September 9, 2010 8:10 p.m.

    anyone play mobsters on myspace....myspace, anyway it came out like a whole year before mafia wars...just sayin
  • cj12297 - September 9, 2010 7:37 p.m.

    this makes me sad
  • tuomotaivainen - September 9, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    @NotBraze And that would only be because hardly anyone will see those interviews. At least not enough to ever make a dent in Zynga.
  • NotBraze - September 9, 2010 7:15 p.m.

    Like any story the truth here will lie somewhere in between the two extremes. I can believe the Mark Pincus quote, but I have my suspicions regarding the truth in the alleged "Do Evil" mission statement. This news story is going to go one of two ways, though, either there will be enormous backlash against Zynga or it'll be an incomprehensible blip in the radar and people will go along rotting their minds in front of this garbage. My guess is the latter
  • oufour - September 9, 2010 7:13 p.m.

    hehe, tobuscus is awesome. and i heard about that escapist thing, but wasn't that because they didn't want it in march madness cause a lot of users didn't feel they were a real game company? none the else the whole evil thing seems a bit far fetched for me, and I'm a sableye kind of guy. wow that was an awful joke.
  • Crabhand - September 9, 2010 6:51 p.m.

    @oufour I wouldn't be surprised, really, if you were around The Escapist during their March Mayhem developer tournament, you would have seen a lot of dirty laundry of Zynga's floating around. They just aren't a great company and they are extremely exploitative. Relevant Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odBDAcOEKuI
  • 510BrotherPanda - September 9, 2010 6:46 p.m.

    I'm glad I never ever gave FarmVille a chance. It turned Harvest Moon soulless and competitive.
  • oufour - September 9, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    this sounds like a disgruntled employee bad mouthing his boss. i very much doubt this is real. if it is though, bye bye zynga.
  • ViolentLee - September 9, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    Now I'm confused: If I eat the Farmville branded bottled water at 7-11, will I level-up my farming skills, earn money, or become evil?

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