Everybody hates Zynga

Farhad Manjoo writes that Zynga, no longer shielded by its early success, is now in a death spiral fueled by universal contempt: "If you’re looking for this generation’s Pets.com, Zynga is pretty much it."


  1. I hated Zynga before it was cool. 

    When I first got on Facebook everybody was crazy for Farmville and Mafia Wars, so I checked them out and was shocked at just how incredibly scummy the whole thing was.  The gameplay was pure Skinner Box, with the addition of annoying your friends constantly.  Other ways to get ahead involved just buying boosts from Zynga directly (pay to win) or messing around with their scum of the earth affiliates.  So many credit cards with monthly fees and sky high rates, so many offers for probably illegal prescription drugs, and even “surveys” that were clearly just attempts to sign you up for as many mailing lists as possible, all of which would get you in-game bonuses.

    I was actually surprised to learn that they were based in the US, I assumed they were run by the same companies that make those Free to Play MMOs over in Asia that are basically just grind + pay2win.  I was even more amazed when they had a wildly succesful IPO, despite being run like some fly by night operation.  I am not surprised at all that the investors who bought the stock are getting burned however.   

    1. > I was even more amazed when they had a wildly succesful IPO, despite being run like some fly by night operation.

      Well, they have one thing going for them: they’re massively profitable; they essentially sell gifs at a 90%+ margin.  It’s easy to make money when you’re in the business of selling pixels.

      But yeah, there’s never been any indication they’d be anything more than a flash in the pan.  The long term outlook has always been bleak.

  2. I personally lost what little hope I had left for the human race when I found out there is piece of software that automates running your farm in Farmville.  I think some people missed the point of the game, which like most games, is to help fill the many lonely hours between birth and death with something that feels like accomplishment.

    1. > to help fill the many lonely hours between birth and death with something that feels like accomplishment

      Wow. That is BLEAK! Are you ok?

  3. Zynga’s business model and top execs have always seemed like basically pure evil to me.  And while there’s some good schadenfreude in watching them implode, as a San Franciscan I can’t help but worry that this bubble bursting is going to cause real pain around here.  Some good people do work for Zynga, unfortunately.  And hopefully the market doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.  There are some casual game companies doing good work for the right reasons that would be sad to see get sucked down along with the Titanic.

  4. I’m not on facebook or play these games… Zynga are known to me for their proper implementation of cloud computing for farmville. with all the buzz around ‘the cloud’ being applied to everything, whether it should or not (*ahem* personal storage) they are a good example of the correct implementation. At the time the biggest web based game supported 5m users, Zynga could have invested in infrastructure to support this many users and lost everything had they failed, while becoming unstable/unsustainable had they succeeded >5m users. By applying cloud VMs to handle increasing demand, they avoided this problem by increasing capacity with demand.

  5. I’m sure it didn’t help that at the peak of their success they were bragging about how evil they were, how much smarter they were than anyone else, and how their customers were stupid pathetic sheep who were there to be f$#ed as hard as possible (which may be true, but bad to brag about).

  6. Hopefully, this is the popping of the social-gaming bubble and we can move on from games that end in “-ville” and require someone else to come and help you play your otherwise-singleplayer Skinner Box with you.

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