Former Zynga staffer: They. Are. Watching. You. [Report]

FarmVille Zynga Reddit
FarmVille Zynga Reddit

Despite a skyrocketing stock price and some (finally) well-performing 2012 releases, Zynga just can't catch a break. Now, a supposed "former full time Zynga engineer" started a tell-all discussion on popular forum Reddit. After six months away from the job, the alleged ex-Zynga staffer spilled the beans with claims that the company spies on players, treats contract workers like "second citizen employees," employs harsh office politics and more.

The Reddit user, named mercenary-games, claims that his proof of actually being a former Zynga employee is an image of his termination certification letter. (That said, take these claims with a heaping pile of salt.) At any rate, for those who've been following news surrounding Zynga for some time, few of these claims are terribly surprising.

"Another issue was skewing gameplay for the sake of profit, example; I actually resorted to BAD MATH, to make the case for making a feature more fun," the user writes. "At the end of one sprint, a QA dude was complaining about the drop rate of a specific item being absurdly insane, and therefore UnFun. I looked at the code, and tweaked some values, gave it back to QA guy, and fun was restored. Product Manager overrides this, goes for unfun, yet more profitable version."

Metrics are used frequently in Zynga's games design--that's a given for almost any social games company--but this supposed former Zynga worker claims that metrics were used to fuel office politics as well, such as the company's relationship with contract employees. Of course, the Reddit user chimed in on the Dream Heights and Zynga Bingo scandals of January, too.

"Tiny Tower + D Heights is all standard operating procedure here. If you can't buy em, clone em. Even the core technology for FarmVille (MyMiniLife), was bought," the Reddit user claims. "The only "homegrown" codebases at Zynga is MafiaWars2 and maybe Poker, the rest of their tech was just bought from small studios. Lookup Dextrose Engine. To me, that's utterly creepy. They try to choke out the competition by gating all these engine tech."

The entire, exhaustively long Reddit thread goes into much more, and is worth a read even if much of this may not be "news". In the meantime, we've contacted Zynga for comment.

Are you surprised by any of the alleged former Zynga employee's claims? Do you think any of these might be true, and if so, are they terribly different from other social game makers? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

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