The sacked former members of Zynga’s now-defunct New York office have admitted they were not surprised by yesterday’s news.
Business Insider reports that several members of staff grabbed beers from the fridge as they were called to a mid-morning meeting, such was the sense of inevitability with which the studio once known as OMGPOP was faced with.
"There were no hard facts or figures. No real explanation. Just typical corporate BS," a former employee stated. "Everyone was just like, ‘Yep’. Not surprised at all. You could almost feel things were slowing down. It was like the weight had been lifted off our shoulders, that a decision had finally been made.
"Most layoffs are sad. You imagine big corporate settings where security is there to lead people out of the office so they don’t make a scene. This was the opposite. Music was being played loudly, and people were ripping up Zynga hoodies and T-shirts. Anything that was Zynga was completely left there. The sentiment felt positive."
Another former OMGPOP employee last night took to Reddit to answer questions about the company’s life under Zynga.
Their business strategy is terrible,” the insider claimed. Their major issues are the inability to adjust to the changing market. They did great when Facebook gaming was on the rise, but now it’s declining and Mobile is on the rise. They’re trying to change over, but employ too many of the same game development ‘best practices’ that were developed for Facebook games. These just don’t translate to the mobile market, which is why they’re suffering in that market.
There’s also lots of other issues internally. A lot of micro-management from the top down that stifles the creativity and hinders the production of many games. An over reliance on every game being a blockbuster hit which makes the fun aspect of games suffer while making the money grabbing tactics all too transparent to the users. And a serious lack of foresight over all.
Too many major decisions are quick reactions to sudden changes in the market. If some games jump to the top of the Top Grossing charts then everyone need to drop everything and change to follow it. Which wastes time, makes for bad design and ultimately puts projects behind schedule. It just means they’re always late to the party, and whatever game they’re trying to compete with has already faded away by the time their own version hits the market.
They rely too much on reacting to what is making money now, and too much on their own data. They don’t strive to make anything new or innovative and that’s no way to excel in the games market. You need to lead the pack, not try emulate the best practices of top games with the hopes that you can out perform and already established IP.”
The same source did have some positives to say about Zynga, however.
They really try hard to keep morale high,” the Redditor added. They give so many perks that you really get accustomed to it. I ate two out of three meals for free at work every day. It was awesome. And they provided healthy options! They promoted volunteering. Going green. They really tried hard to be a good place to work and a socially conscious company. In that way, they’re really great.
On the games side of things I think their whole concept of pulling data on everything players do is amazing. However their over reliance on that is not so amazing. It made the development very analytical, and less intuitive. It’s easy to tell when a game is fun. It’s hard to pull data on that though.
I hated Zynga going into the company. I wasn’t hired. I was acquired through a studio that was bought by Zynga. I had no love for the company. But over time I learned that the company itself isn’t evil. It’s the perception of hardcore vocal gamers that think it’s evil.
Why do people think Zynga is evil? Because they copy the games of smaller developers and do it blatantly and obviously. They’ve made way more money than those companies did on the same games. Hence: evil. But evil is a crazy term to apply to any game company. What is evil? Hitler…
I think we can all agree Hitler is evil. Is Zynga evil? Well, by comparison, no. Maybe they haven’t always been the most ethical company. Maybe they took advantage of games that were already on the market. But that’s business. It happens all the time. Remember when Pixar made Finding Nemo and Dreamworks made a Sharks Tale? Or when Happy Feet and Surf’s Up came out around the same time?
That doesn’t mean that I agree with the mentality of copying games. I hated that. I always fought against it where ever I could. But it’s like Coke and Pepsi. Someone is always going to try and make the same product and package it under another wrapping. Zynga wasn’t as bad as everyone makes them out to be. But the few cases where they were blatantly horrible at it got widely publicized. But most of the games that Zynga published were actually pretty original. They just suffered for other reasons.”