AdversityVille: Massive Layoffs At Zynga, Bigpoint

By Nathan Grayson on October 23rd, 2012 at 10:54 pm.

In modern society, we tend to throw around the phrase “worst day ever” pretty loosely. Stubbed your toe? Worst day ever. Forgot to have “the help” restock your yacht with perfectly chilled bottles of imported Mars water? Worst day ever. Looked on helplessly as you and nearly 250 other talented individuals in your line of work suddenly found yourselves jobless? OK, now we’re getting somewhere. That’s today’s unfortunate tale, straight from the frontlines of struggling social behemoth Zynga and Battlestar Galactica Online creator Bigpoint. Details after the break.

Zynga unceremoniously broke the news to well over 100 employees at its Austin, Boston, and Chicago offices during Apple’s attention black hole of an iPad Mini conference. And while Zynga’s hardly the first company to time layoffs with major press events, it’s still pretty darn yucky. As of writing, the Austin layoffs have been confirmed, with the studio still remaining operational at a vastly smaller employee count. According to Gamasutra, however, both The Ville (target of EA’s much-publicized lawsuit) and a new IP are “done.” Meanwhile, word on the street (read: Twitter; streets went extinct 36 years ago) is that Zynga’s closed its entire Boston studio and carved up much of its Chicago location with a job-reaping scythe.

Bigpoint, on the other hand, was far more public with its layoffs, but that doesn’t make the 120 job losses any less of a bitter pill to swallow. CEO Heiko Hubertz is also stepping down, effectively shuttering all Bigpoint development in the US. “We have seen that developing games in the US is not really the most efficient way for us at the moment,” Hubertz told GamesIndustry International. “The games that we have developed in the last two years haven’t been that successful, and the San Francisco area and Bay Area is quite a competitive market.”

On the upside, the industry is – as always – doing a sterling job of reaching out. Among others, PopCap, Harmonix, and thatgamecompany have publicly offered a helping hand – with numerous developers across the US making similar gestures to pick up displaced talent.

And let us take a moment to remember: these are talented people we’re talking about. No, you may not like Zynga’s output (I know I sure don’t), but it employs enormous swathes of smart, hard-working individuals. While Zynga’s fall seems all but inevitable at this point, I can’t root for something that’ll see so many people put in a position of such frightening uncertainty. So instead, I’m wishing everyone the absolute best. This industry can be unbelievably cutthroat sometimes, but stay strong, everyone.

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97 Comments »

  1. fredcadete says:

    Yes yes, but what about the iPad mini??

    Sarcasm aside, this must suck. Not only your company fires you, they time it to try to slip by unnoticed with it.

  2. nimzy says:

    Ah, the games industry. It never fails to provide evidence that you’d have to be crazy to want to make video games for a living. And that’s why I love you guys. Never give up!

    • Alien426 says:

      I think the massive uncontrolled growth that some companies go through is to blame. Once they enjoy some success they go “Let’s make more games, let’s make bigger games. We need to hire a ton of people, we need to open new offices, we need to form a company that manages the ‘creative’ companies, we need to be at every convention/expo, we need to have a new logo designed… don’t worry, we make more than enough money!!”

      Bigpoint maintains offices in Berlin, San Francisco, Malta and Sao Paulo.

      I’m glad that most indie developers seem to like their small teams and stick with them.

  3. Stackler says:

    Let’s hope all these people will get a job at REAL studios, so they can work on better games.

  4. simoroth says:

    Last week, Zynga’s share price hit an interesting low. Their market value is now less than the physical value of the company. A lot of Zynga’s workforce have been holding out on pathetically low wages, hoping that their share price would up. And of course it wont.. not now.

    But it’s okay, Pincus and the other rat-suits got what they wanted. They took an early exit and stole the money from under their noses. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/zynga-insider-trading-lawsuit_n_1724410.html

    • Meat Circus says:

      See, Nathan says that Zynga employed smart people. But this was all so painfully obvious that, frankly, you’d have to have been a simpleton not to see it coming.

      Thesis: Zynga, far from employing smart people, only employed thick people, or people who were desperate enough to turn a blind eye to the exploitative, immoral, evil and illegal practices they were enabling.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Exploitative. Name ten for profit companies of zyngas size that don’t exploit someone or something. In fact name five. One, even?
        Illegal. Got a source for the criminal activity Zynga were engaging in, or is this a hollow accusation.
        Evil. What’s your definition?
        Immoral. Couldn’t agree with you more. Though we’re back to name ten for profit companies etc etc.

        • yrrnn says:

          Exploitative. Just because everybody else does it too doesn’t make it any less bad.
          Illegal. Zynga executives are being sued for insider trading. That doesn’t necessarily prove it, but I feel alleged is probably good enough cause to use the word. Source: http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/31/3201728/zyngas-insider-trading-lawsuits-focuses-on-execs-who-avoided-ban-on
          Evil. A strong word maybe, but bad is bad.
          Immoral. See Exploitative.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            So we should celebrate every time a company goes under destroying the lives of hundreds of people because they may have made decisions which don’t match your moral code?

            Re. the insider trading – you need proof that they were with-holding evidence from the public. As the Meat Circus says above “this was all so painfully obvious that, frankly, you’d have to have been a simpleton not to see it coming”

            So apparently, the opposing argument to mine states that you would have to have been a simpleton to not see that Zynga was going under, but the execs were with-holding information which showed they were going under. These two arguments contradict each other.

            I’ll restate my argument nice and simply, rebut if you can.

            You do not have to be a stupid person or an immoral person or a criminal or a person who is happy to exploit others in order to work for a company like zynga.

        • Aedrill says:

          Oh, everyone does it so it’s fine, argument… No, it’s not fine, not at all. And my definition of Evil? Quite simple, Unethical = Evil. Just because you don’t kill baby seals with a stick, it doesn’t mean you’re fine. In a world without any deity (and I’m fine with such world, even though I’m a believer) ethics are all we’ve got. They’re the only things that keep us from doing horrible things. There were many examples in history, I’ll bring a very recent one. Have you ever heard of a term Credit Crunch? It’s this minor thing that happened to ruin lives of millions of honest, mostly poor, people. And it started with unethical behaviours and it spread quickly because these behaviours were giving an advantage on the market and there’s no law to stop them, so if you want to stay competitive, you have to do it as well. Soon, banks and thieves aka “investors” moved from unethical, to illegal but it was too late to stop the machine.

          It doesn’t matter if we can find evidence of criminal activity. Being unethical is just as bad because it causes harm to the society and it’s easy to justify the way you did it.

        • Bhazor says:

          Er Zynga is well known for being an absolute fuck stack. With massive insider trading*, endless copyright infringements, blatant cloning and the worst treatment of players I’ve ever seen. They treated players as pawns in a pyramid scheme getting their users to bombard everyone else with endless spam.
          *http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/zynga-insider-trading-lawsuit_n_1724410.html

          No. Zynga was by far the worst thing in gaming.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            See my reply above re. insider trading. As for copyright infingement, you seem to be arguing that anybody who works for a company which has comitted CI is either stupid, immoral, happy to exploit others etc etc.

            I think you need to separate in your mind a company and what it stands for and it’s employees and what they stand for.

            Who do you work for? I bet we can trawl up some juice on them. Does that make you personally stupid for working for them? Does that make you guilty of the same immorality? Nope. So let’s not cheer the difficulties currently being faced by hundreds of families right now, instead maybe we could show them some empathy.

      • Supahewok says:

        Hope is the quintessential mortal delusion.

      • Josh W says:

        There were a third category of people; those people they could trick into thinking they were helping to “turn the ship”, while putting out similarly low brain cell games.

        Zynga would have been willing to create non-evil games, so long as they were equally profitable, and could be designed in a set of obvious net win improvements on the existing model, without any chance of failure.

        Only really good or arrogant game designers would think they would be able to do that.

    • Muzman says:

      Wow, the Enron of games. Classy. I guess if you make ‘games’ of such cynicism like that you probably would know how to play the system.
      I made a joke once about the sequel to The Social Network being about Farmville. I’m not so sure it’s a joke any more.

  5. megazver says:

    I hope Brian Reynolds got fired.

    Then he can join a company that makes actual games and make something good again.

    EDIT: Oh, and Soren Johnson. Zynga, The Black Hole of Game Design Talent.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I was wavering on that thought as well. Never like to wish that on anyone, but Reynolds helmed the Best Game Ever. Can’t imagine he gets to do anything with a tenth of the creativity and vision there. Must hope that Zinga is at least helping send his kids to really nice schools or something.

      • Shuck says:

        You’re assuming that there’s somewhere better for him to be. He obviously disagrees about that.

        • megazver says:

          At the time he’d disagree, joining Zynga was going to earn him a lot of money.

          I suspect he’s having second thoughts these days.

          • Shuck says:

            If people in the game industry were primarily motivated by profit, they’d be in another line of work. Creative control is what most people like that are after. My coworkers in the industry pretty consistently turn down better paying jobs to work on projects that seem more interesting to them. (This is modified by other concerns, such as not having to move across the country and getting to work with people you like, or the likely stability of the company.)

          • Bhazor says:

            In this case his mad fever dream was a Farmville reskin? If thats the case I really really hope he’s only in it for the money.

  6. killingbutterflies says:

    Hold on, Popcap?
    They could hire some of the people back they just got rid of?

    • Supahewok says:

      Of course. They’re only going to get rid of these people they’re hiring now when their next couple of games ship, after all.

  7. MondSemmel says:

    Look, I get that you write this the obligatory “While Zynga’s fall seems all but inevitable at this point, I can’t root for something that’ll see so many people put in a position of such frightening uncertainty.” at RPS – you always do that. But in this specific case, I really, really don’t agree with this whatsoever:
    1) Zynga is evil. Zynga, however, is not a living entity – it’s a soulless corporation or some-such. Therefore, the humans employed by this entity are either doing evil themselves or somehow their actions in aggregate become evil. In simpler words: Zynga makes evil games (100% addictive, 0% fun; recent attempts to get into gambling games; etc.) and makes our world poorer to live in. Surely as an employee, you are partly responsible for this?
    2) Zynga had a massive pull on the whole gaming landscape for a while, and probably still does despite its struggles. But if Zynga shrinks, someone else could very well pick up its market share. I personally would rather see Activion or EA have that market share than Zynga, but who is to say that people like indie devs couldn’t benefit, too?
    So, all in all: Why is Zynga laying off people in any way a bad thing?

    • Sidewinder says:

      Because it’s putting people out of work in rough economic times. If anything, I’d say that people getting laid off is bad (even if the company’s… unpleasant, it’s a paycheck), but the entity of Zynga crashing and burning is… not.

    • Kid_A says:

      Thank you for clarifying that anyone who has fun playing Zynga games is just being tricked into having fun, while throwing around stupid bloody words like “evil” about gorram videogames.

    • Shuck says:

      I have serious problems with this attitude. When you’re unemployed and someone is hiring, it’s not exactly easy to say no to a job, especially when there aren’t any alternatives (or the alternatives are making identical products but under poorer working conditions). If you work in the games industry, you’ll take a lot of crappy jobs. Those jobs exist because there are actual people who actually enjoy these games, even if you aren’t one of them. And if you want to start calling Zynga “evil,” which is absurd, how about all the game (especially MMO) developers using the exact same sort of “Skinner box” designs, but sucking up way more time and money out of people? What about studios making sexist/militaristic/violent/whateverthefuck games?
      The reality is, Zynga failing won’t help anyone else make something different. I know people who work(ed) at Zynga only because they were the only ones hiring. They were the only ones hiring because that’s what players are still spending money on (last I heard, Zynga was bringing in more money than ever, even if their profits were down). This is just about actual human developers being hurt, not necessarily Zynga or what it represents.

      • Archonsod says:

        “I have serious problems with this attitude. When you’re unemployed and someone is hiring, it’s not exactly easy to say no to a job”

        Oh I dunno. I’d draw the line at operating a gas chamber for example.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          There is a meteoric difference between working for a games company that copies other games and killing people for a living!

          I know what you’re saying but in the grand scheme of things, zynga tried a scummy tactic and is mostly helmed by scummy people. Can you hold your hand over your heart and tell me you would rather see your children go without than work for someone who’s perfectly legal (in a criminal sense) business skirts a moral grey area?

          On a scale of 1 to scum, I rate zynga a 2 (or 3 if an ex sims social employee brought EA assets with him to the company for use in the ville.) Bear in mind I rate energy companies at 5 and I don’t want to see the man who checks my meter out of a job either.

          • Shuck says:

            Honestly, even compared with other game companies I’d not rate Zynga as particularly terrible. Their game-cloning practice are objectionable (and it’s only their size that makes it worse than other companies doing the same), but they’re otherwise better than a lot of other game companies, overall. I’ve seen some cynical, despicable behavior from other game companies towards employees, investors and/or audience.

          • El Mariachi says:

            What is a “meteoric difference?” Is that a difference that burns away into nothing the longer you look at it?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Shit, I should stop looking at my meteorite, apparently that’s what burns them away!

          • Josh W says:

            Your rage is impervious to humour!

            Meteoric refers to “like a meteor”, in other words, like a piece of rock and dust and stuff, in the process of falling through the sky at vast speeds. Thus, his comment is both accurate and witty, and yours is deserving only of counterpedantry.

        • Shuck says:

          @Archonsod : Well, yes, but that would be an argument for not working in a particular industry.

        • Caiman says:

          Hey, let’s take the most extreme and offensive example we can think of and use it to try and prove a point. Nice try.

      • PopeJamal says:

        I’m sorry, but I can’t help but feel that “they had to work for Zygna11!11!!!one!!” is complete bullshit.

        I don’t know any of these people, but considering that:
        a) they got hired as developers at a high profile gig with Zygna
        b) I’m pretty sure NONE of these people were making minimum wage

        They absolutely had a choice. I’m sure that 90% or more of these devs could have gotten a “regular” job like the rest of us mere mortals and practically written their own contract.

        Sure, it might have been the only GAMING job they could get, but none of them was going to starve for lack of finding a decent paying job. Any time you go work for an “agile” trendy, high profile media whore of a company, you run the risk of getting the ol’ “dot com shitcan” routine pulled on you.

        Too risky? Go work for a bank or an insurance company. They’re always hiring and arguably not much more “evil” than Zygna.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      It’s a bit of a thorny issue that’s for certain. I don’t think many people would leap to the defense of Zynga and it’s business practices or design aesthetic but many of the people working there will have genuinely loved games and wanted to make experiences that people enjoyed.

      • D3xter says:

        If you loved games (and knew what you were doing) you wouldn’t work for Zynga, but for other developers or go Indie/found your own company / try your luck at KickStarter etc. e.g.: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/167244/Turning_down_Zynga_Why_I_opted_out_of_the_210M_Omgpop_buy.php

        Frankly, there’s certain things and directions I view as “evil” and detrimental to consumer rights, the industry in general or even humanity where I have absolutely no quarrel with people losing their jobs, since they likely (hopefully) knew what they were getting into, such things would include Apple shedding employees as their stock divejumps, Cloud Gaming burning in a fire and “Social” Gaming companies like Zynga.
        For the way a lot of these designers think and these “games” are being designed see the article linked in the first comment.

        I even considered and still consider working for companies like BigPoint or GameForge and I’m sure if I just lost my job I’d likely think differently at that moment, but right now I just couldn’t feel sorry for myself since I know how they operate and would go in with that knowledge at the back of my mind.

        • RodHope says:

          If you get a job you shouldn’t be surprised if you lose it? High Street stores, restaurants, Councils..well everything have done massive layoffs in the last few years.

          • D3xter says:

            I’m not in the US. There’s still something called “job security” around here.

          • mondomau says:

            Really? Where’s that? If you say the UK I’m going to have you sectioned.

  8. Shuck says:

    Damn, I have a bunch of (very talented) former coworkers at Bigpoint who must have gotten the axe. Considering how much they’ve been bounced around in the last few years by company closures, this has got to hurt.

  9. Navagon says:

    I wont pretend I’ve ever liked Zynga, but losing your job in a crappy economy when you’re in an industry that’s pretty brutal at the best of times is a pretty bloody unfortunate to say the least.

  10. Meat Circus says:

    Downside: people who willingly went and worked for an evil and obviously doomed company were inevitably laid off.

    Upside: the vile cancer in “social gaming” that Zynga started has metastasised and will soon kill the patient entirely.

    • Toberoth says:

      Get over yourself!

      Honestly, this overblown language people use to describe a game company and the games industry in general is absurd. Cancer? Really?

      • lordcooper says:

        Thank you!

        I don’t like Zynga at all, despise the ‘games’ they make and wish that all the talented folks they employ would just go indie or something. They’re not the antichrist though.

  11. malkav11 says:

    My basic stance is that I cheer the inevitable demise of Zynga and hopefully the business practices it was so infamous for, while hoping the personal cost to its employees is as low as possible.

    • Shuck says:

      Everyone is presuming that Zynga is doing poorly. That’s not necessarily the case. Previous articles that foretold Zynga’s doom (because of lowered profits) were during times when their revenues were the highest they’d ever been (but so were their costs, due to growth). I don’t even know that Zynga is hurting in terms of income right now; they could be bringing in more money than ever.

    • f1x says:

      Of course its not doomed, even with the fact that social/mobile gaming is not as big as it seemed at the start, its still damn big

      What I see here is that they are simply going to move to cheaper countries were they can sustain a studio with half or less of the costs and produce a similar game,
      of course its not gonna be the same, but as big and “corporative” Zynga is they are just thinking costs now as their profit growth has (suposedly) slowed down

  12. biggergun says:

    While layoffs are obviously a bad thing, I can’t help but gloat. I worked in social gaming for some time, and it is plain disgusting. Hope those people not only find new jobs, but worthwile ones.

  13. Biscuitry says:

    So much vitriol in the comments above. Some days I am ashamed to be a gamer because of the company I must keep.

    Every game developer dreams of being… well, Notch, basically, but the reality is that it’s a terribly competitive industry, and there comes a point where you take the jobs you can because you need to eat and it’s all you know how to do. Our thoughts should be with those who now have to wonder how they’re going to support their families, not the plainly failing corporation that forced them into this situation.

    • f1x says:

      All my respects to those who losst the jobs,
      and what you say is true, not only for the videogames industry but for pretty every creative-related industry,
      anyone who works as freelance illustrator, inside a creative studio, in a publicity agency, etc knows

      The thing is, its hard to not blame the corporations everytime when its actually their fault, a CEO genious has an irreal business plan and when it fails, who gets fired? the lowest guys of the studios,
      need to reduce costs? fire people from the base or push them to work more and eventually burnout and leave, directives keep their skyhigh salaries and bonus, and the company keeps having insane benefits even tho

    • Branthog says:

      Talking shit about Zynga has nothing to do with the employees. That said, however, this is probably the best thing that could happen to them. Knowing a number of Zynga employees, the general consensus among them has always been “it’s a paycheck, but if I lost my job tomorrow, it probably wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen”. A couple of them have even said, in the past, that if they lost their job at Zynga, it would probably just be the impetus they need to move on and do something more rewarding and better for their careers.

      Zynga is a notoriously hostile and soul-sucking environment to work in and I feel the same way I do for laid off employees from there that I would for someone finally leaving an abusive relationship. Which is to say, I’m sorry they’re undergoing some turmoil, but I’m not sorry they’re finally making the break from a shitty situation, because now they have the world in front of them.

  14. tomeoftom says:

    This is probably a good thing. Taking a job at Zynga isn’t really that defensible. Even if the job market’s dry as hell, Zynga is a company that uses psychological tricks to take vast, vast amounts of money from people. You can claim the people aren’t victims, but gambling rarely provides an amount of enjoyment proportionate to how much money is lost. It’s a vile thing *without* the fact that they also steal in a much more direct sense the work of other studios by making carbon copies of successful games. It’s not evil to pump out shitty games, but it’s certainly evil to con millions of people for profit, and that’s what the employees were enabling.

    Edit: If anyone wants to debate the validity of “social games” (what a euphemism) as entertainment as opposed to the gambling du jour, refer to the Tim Rogers piece linked in the first comment. An example: most of the money doesn’t come in from many people in small amounts – in fact, statistically it’s a tiny tiny minority of people that individually end up pouring thousands into a game: essentially, problem gamblers. The mass audience gives a greater chance of catching these rare “white whales”.

    • Shuck says:

      Which makes them no different from any other free-to-play game maker. And not significantly different from any MMO maker, except that MMOs are eating up time rather than money (which can be just as destructive).

    • Sheng-ji says:

      By this logic, taking a job at a casino isn’t defensible either, or a mobile phone company – those teens who just have to chat whilst abroad, running up bills of thousands.

      Nor is it OK to work for any company which uses expensive advertising, like say TV ads – psychologically manipulating you into spending your money on their products!

      What about energy companies and their devious pricing? Companies which have pro-active sales departments?

      In fact, have you seen how manipulative those water aid ads are? With the dying children drinking filthy water. It must be indefensible to work for water aid too. The charity installing wells in areas of Africa where the local water is being polluted by industry.

      • tomeoftom says:

        Shuck: F2P games and MMOs aren’t quite as manipulative as social games, and they usually have mechanics that extend farther than just the Skinner Box. Most social games are the thinnest of veneers needed to set up the psychomathematical techniques.

        Sheng-ji: “taking a job at a casino isn’t defensible either”. You’re damn right it’s not. All the other industries you mentioned actually provide a service in the end. What distinguishes social games and casinos (which are the same thing) is that the core of their profitmaking derives from the carefully-engineered con. Seriously, read the TIm Rogers piece and stop slippery-slope strawmanning all the way into the sky.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Is entertaining people no longer considered a service worth paying for? Someone ought to tell hollywood.

          I skimmed your article, but first I checked out the credentials and history of the writer. You may wish to do the same before worshipping every word he published.

          Anyway, lets avoid slippery slope strawmanning all the way into the sky [SIC] because you clearly don’t believe in uniformity of logic – well either that or you can’t be bothered to make your point properly.

          You state that it is indefensible to work for Zynga because you don’t like social games. You don’t like social games because you (read a “journalist” with a history of lying for hits) believe (read gets maximum hits by writing) them to be manipulating people out of money.

          So you decided to forego primary evidence in favour of here-say and rumour. Fine, whatever. Let me ask you a question. Is it also indefensible to sit on the dole (state handouts) when you could be working? Feeding your family at the expense of the tax payer because your precious morals don’t match that job you could have had. Given what you have written, your answer cannot be yes, which in my eyes, makes you scummier than Zynga.

        • Toberoth says:

          They are providing a service: entertainment. Social games or gambling might not be entertaining to you, but they’re a valid pastime (albeit an expensive one) for a lot of people.

          I’m no fan of Zynga–never played any of their games, and I doubt I ever will–but I don’t see anything inherently “evil” about them as a company, and I can totally sympathise with people who took a job there in the hope of it leading to something greater.

          Edit: Sheng partially beat me to it. Agree with her point about the Tim Rogers piece. It’s an interesting and provocative article from a writer who usually produces complete shit (you’ve only to look at his Kotaku page to see that), but it’s by no means the last word in the social/casual games debate.

        • tomeoftom says:

          Sheng-ji: Wow. You’re one of the most unpleasant and irrational folk I’ve ever encountered on RPS. Going to abandon talking with you now, if you don’t mind.

          Toberoth: Re: Tim Rogers – he’s usually taking the piss. He is a very, very arch-ironic kind of guy, and most of the time when he writes for Kotaku it’s as a joke, too. The misinformation is more him intentionally being unprofessional, trivial, self-indulgent, and everything else that comprises his persona. The writings on Action Button / Insert Credit are usually more literal, but the piece on social games is real, as in “yes he did go through a stint of designing social games”. Even without those events actually happening, the breakdown of the games’ mechanics inherent in the piece is the most important thing to take away. If your position is that the entertainment derived from casinos – or, for a much better analogue pokie machines – is in any way on the same level as the money lost on them, then I guess our positions are irreconcilable.

          If your position is that “many people play for just a couple of rounds and have fun”, think about what happens if you multiply that out – do the people that play for a *long* time still get satisfaction equal to what they lose?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I’m sorry that you find me unpleasant, I have to say, your attitude disgusts me, I mean, I literally am disgusted that you are happy these people have lost their jobs. You are vile scum for that and I hope to god you find some way in your life to learn what empathy is and how to have some.

            I don’t mind at all if you don’t ever talk to me again, in fact if you try to, you will find that I have blocked you.

          • Toberoth says:

            Tome: I’m not evaluating the entertainment value of casinos/slot machines whatever based on how much money people put into them, because I don’t think that’s how the people who play slot machines calculate it. I also don’t calculate the entertainment value of games based on how much I pay for them, and I expect people who play social games don’t do that, either. I wouldn’t say our positions are irreconcilable, I think we’re just talking about different things.

            Re: Tim Rogers–I don’t care whether he’s being arch or self-aware or what, I just find his pieces to be either insipid, provocative for the sake of it (his articles on Kotaku titled “10 Things I Hate About Skyrim”, “10 Things Terribly Wrong with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”, and “I love Final Fantasy VII: Now Watch Me Pretend I Hate It” are prime examples of this shitty practice), or way, way too long with no real point to them (“Japan: It’s Not Funny Anymore”). I’m fine with writers employing irony, or projecting a persona that doesn’t match their own, but I refuse to read the work of a writer who seems to have no clue what he’s talking about most of the time, or who rambles excessively, or who is just plain boring like Rogers is. That said, I do appreciate his perspective on game design in that one piece, which is the only piece of his that I’ve ever recommended to anyone, even if that also falls into the trap (in places) of being somewhat discursive and pretentious.

        • Shuck says:

          “F2P games and MMOs aren’t quite as manipulative as social games”
          Having worked on MMOs, I can say that they’re pretty much identical. (MMOs are worse, in some ways.) The manipulative mechanics at their cores are mostly the same, it’s just that MMOs have more padding on their frames to hide the fact.

  15. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Same as every other industry in the country, pretty much.

    There aren’t really any conclusions to draw about the state of gaming from this, only about the state of the economy. Stupid.

    • Stackler says:

      For sure you can draw conclusions about the state of gaming from this, because the whole industry implements “features” of Zynga games in their own products. I feel sorry for the individual people, especially if they are just simple programmers or artists, but lead designers and business jerks are responsible for their exploiting and player abusing practices of their games.

  16. Bobtree says:

    Zynga certainly isn’t high on my sympathy list. Honestly RPS need not bother writing about them. I just don’t care.

    • Toberoth says:

      Weirdly enough, RPS isn’t your personal news service. A lot of people do care about this stuff. Say what you like, but Zynga has had a massive effect on PC gaming, and this is a PC gaming website.

  17. Moraven says:

    Its 5% of their work force. Nothing is breaking up quite yet. They overspent and overexpanded while getitng no returns on their investments. Bostom was two studios they had bought in 2010, 2011. I am sure the sellers of those companies had some nice stock to sell at the IPO.

    I hope the people who lost their jobs find work. Much like the collapse of 38 studios the industry is reaching out on social networks to help one another find jobs.

  18. benkc says:

    I’m kind of surprised that all the above comments regarding Zynga’s morals focus solely on their game design and ignore that they used to actively encourage their users to install malware and spyware. They’d probably still be doing so if not for the legal threats that were brought against them.

  19. Abbykins says:

    If you were an employee at Zynga, an argument could be made that you weren’t talented. Oh sure, talented at programming, perhaps. But lacking talent where it is crucial – finding employment with a company that had some ethics and standards. That’s a whole ‘nother kind of talent.

  20. Vinraith says:

    Good riddance to bad companies, for all that I feel for the employees. When Bigpoint implodes, could someone that doesn’t suck please acquire the Dark Eye license?

  21. TaroYamada says:

    While I am sad for the individuals who now find themselves unemployed, I cannot say I am unhappy to watch as the social/mobile market falls apart. It’s a unnecessary distraction from core titles, and the games are a waste of resources.

  22. MythArcana says:

    Quite a few businesses are folding in the U.S. due to the current administration’s complete lack of insight and regard for the working class. Some of these medium sized dev houses are now plagued with a very expensive mandatory health coverage plan which will probably cause more studios to fold in the future…or simply relocate to a land which isn’t strangled by the capitalistic slave labor approach that most have to suffer through.

    I have watched almost every single friend I had move out of state due to the complete inability to find work in their given fields and it’s revolting to see what America once had being thrown away in a careless warcry of stupidity year after miserable year. The only way one can succeed in the game industry these days is to pump out the same tired Steamcrap with vivid carton shaders, achievements, unlocks, and myriad of other tired, lame ideas that turn every game into a generic waste of time. At least we had two good decades of success, fun, and amazement prior to the suicidal camel-jockey stupid human trick which changed the world for the worst.

    And now we have the infamous FBI wasting tax payer dollars arresting children for downloading games which they will only play for 3 minutes anyway before getting horribly bored with it all. You can look at one isolated incident and call it a simply bad business decision, or you can accept this for what it really is…the complete American Dream of Failure which we are ALL entitled to. Keep voting liberal, and we’ll all be seeing the FBI and the IRS beating our doors down for something or another. Great way to fail hard, America.

    • Muzman says:

      ..yy..sure, whatever. It’s healthcare’s fault

    • Nick says:

      Ah yes, because voting liberal is what got the US in the mess it is now.

      Oh wait, thats not even remotely true and not backed up by any evidence whatsoever. But then, completely ignoring fact and history is what political debate is all about. For opinionated morons anyway.

    • Bhazor says:

      … yeah, healthcare, that’s why your friends moved away.

      • Beemann says:

        Haven’t you looked at Canada’s population? It’s empty up here!
        Everyone’s down by the border so they can flee to delicious safety-net-free America

        I also like how he manages to tie in hatred of capitalism (read: right wing economic policy) to a leftist social welfare system

  23. Xaromir says:

    I wouldn’t call 100 “massive”, a company here once fired well over 2000 over the course of a year. Another thing: Two unfunny example at the beginning would have been plenty. I find these fillers particularly annoying in the beginning portion of an article, because i judge by that if i want to read the whole thing, so it would be appreciated if it would contain more of the core information rather than nonsense.

  24. Hypocee says:

    No, you may not like Goebbels’ output (I know I sure don’t), but it employs enormous swathes of smart, hard-working individuals.

    No, you may not like News Corp’s output (I know I sure don’t), but it employs enormous swathes of smart, hard-working individuals.

    No, you may not like CCTV’s output (I know I sure don’t), but it employs enormous swathes of smart, hard-working individuals.

    So that’s fun. What if I desperately want them to stop working so hard? Sometimes “what” matters.

  25. frightlever says:

    Well… I dunno. You can’t have your cake and eat it, nor can you be done with Zynga and have everyone keep their jobs. It’s like wanting Intellectual Ventures to disappear, but wanting all the blood-sucking lawyers to keep their jobs. On the bright side these sort of massive layoffs led to a massive surge of creativity.

  26. Brun says:

    While it is sad that people are losing their jobs over it, Zynga’s continuing spiral into oblivion is something that needs to happen, desperately. The rest of the industry needs to see this dramatic example of Social Gaming’s failure – overwhelming evidence that Social Gaming was indeed a (relatively long-lived) fad, as many had speculated from the beginning. Zynga was taking video games down the wrong path, and many significant players in the industry have spent a great deal of money and effort in an attempt to follow them. One naturally hopes that Zynga’s free-fall will make the EAs, Activisions, Nintendos, Valves, Epics, and ids of the world think twice about continuing down that path.

    • Beemann says:

      I don’t think watching a company fail will deter copycat companies from cashing in on the social gaming gold-rush
      I mean… how many bog-standard subscription-based MMORPGs have formed, failed and gone free-to-play to survive?
      How many have flat-out failed or been shut down due to an unsustainable system or low profit?
      And that’s not even talking about all the games that were shut-down partway through development
      Still, though, we have companies rushing into the MMORPG market in an attempt to soak up even a fraction of the money behemoths like World of Warcraft have accumulated, failing to realize that lack of innovation and the very nature of MMORPGs (huge time investment in a community-centric game) makes it hard to break into that section of the gaming market

      Social gaming will go on with or without Zynga. The only thing that will change with its passing is that someone else will take up the mantle of social gaming king
      This will likely continue until the “Next Big Thing”

      • Brun says:

        MMOs are an interesting counterexample – but I disagree with it. Most of those MMO’s that sprang up and collapsed were conceived and began development shortly after WoW became successful (2006-2007). We continuously saw failures (and see them even today) because the protracted development time for MMOs meant that many of them weren’t getting out the door until two or three years later. The early failures (Vanguard, WAR, AoC) probably discouraged the publishers of some MMOs that came later (SWTOR being the primary example), but by the time it became apparent that the WoW model wasn’t a reliable recipe for success, everyone was already too far along in their development to abandon it. It’s pretty obvious to MMO makers now that F2P is the way of the future (or a hybrid approach like GW2).

  27. Moraven says:

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/24/technology/zynga-earnings/

    So not as crappy as expected, but goes to show how overvalued and hyped their IPO was. Executives did well to get a good payday from investors.

    The big thing is if people have not seen it is that Zynga is expanding by becoming a online gambling company. Guess it fits inline with how they have developed their games.

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