Why Zynga Sucks

Hi, my name is Zynga.  I’m the first pure social gaming company to go public.  I want you to believe I can make you money.

I’m a slave to two platforms.  Facebook and Mobile.  I serve the social gaming market in both platforms.  This market has a huge bottleneck – it has a shitload of games but only a select few can dominate and pull the huge profit.  To compensate, I as well as all the other  social gaming companies flood the market with a nonstop barrage of games, hoping that one of them somehow becomes a hit.  Ironically, flooding the market makes it even more difficult all around for someone to succeed, creating a wonderful race to the bottom with a ton of cheap interchangeable shit.  This differs from traditional gaming, where you can have multiple hits across different genres.  But for you investors I’ll pretend all games behave the same no matter the market.

The social gaming market I serve has little product differentiation,  making brand loyalty practically non-existent.  So when gamers get tired of what they’re playing, they migrate to whatever they happen to click on next or whatever their friends are playing.  They don’t wait for the next Zynga game to drop or stick entirely to Zynga games.  Bottomline is social gaming customers don’t care who makes the game they’re glued to for the next 5 months.  Whether it’s Zynga, Playfish, or Kabam is irrelevant.  So expecting me to generate a long term profit on the basis of having a couple hits doesn’t work. But for you investors I’ll act like social gaming is all about brand loyalty.

The crux of what’s made me different is my streamlined analytics – the numbers I’ve crunched to make the perfect skinner box.  With the exception of my Poker and puzzle game ripoffs, all my social games are reward/punishment skinner boxes that might as well be nothing more than a game where you click on cows every 6 hours.  The analytics I use for the skinner box’s definitive features such as how long I gotta fuckin wait to harvest my crops, how much $$$ I get for serving virtual casserole, and other shit like this are what keeps the user coming back more reliably than my competitors.  Besides being the first company to take advantage of Facebook, a milestone that can no longer be duplicated, these analytics have been the key to my success.  Unfortunately, having the foundation of your success be a bunch of spreadsheets means it’s easily duplicated.  Which is why other companies like EA and Booyah are intruding on my turf now.  But for you investors I’ll pretend I’ve got something my competitors don’t have.

I suck at making games.  So I steal.  I steal code.  I steal gaming concepts.  I steal whatever game mechanic is hot at the moment and reskin it.  My biggest hits were ripoffs.  Farmville was a ripoff of Farm Town.  Cafe World was a ripoff of Restaurant City.  Mafia Wars was a ripoff of Mob Wars.  Words with Friends ripped off Scrabble.  Scramble with Friends ripped off Boggle.  Is my compulsive stealing to turn a profit sustainable?  I don’t know.  But it does make for some great PR, like my lawsuits with Psycho Monkey, Vostu and Agincourt.  Or when Nimblebit put me on blast in the media for ripping off Tiny Towers.  Which makes me a second rate gaming company posing as a first rate investment. But for you investors, I’ll pretend I’m a creative trailblazer in the industry.

Farmtown vs Farmville - Zynga doing what it does best

Choices are good for the consumer!

The creative bankruptcy that is the social gaming bubble

Is my CEO smart?   Behind closed doors, he hates innovation and urges his employees to jack ideas by all means necessary.

Fellow Fool Patrick Martin compiled a non-inclusive list last year of some of the social-game maker’s more apparent reproductions, including FishVilleMafia Wars, and Word Twist, among others. Patrick also quoted CEO Mark Pincus as once saying, “I don’t [expletive] want innovation. You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers,” according to an ex-employee who spoke with SF Weekly. – Motley Fool

Pincus is anti-innovation which seems to make sense because my market of bored housewives doesn’t really care about innovation too much.  They just want something to pass their time while they’re taking a shit or the baby is asleep, and that something needs to cost a buck or be free. That’s why they’re all okay being lame ass farmers. So one might say innovation is a waste of money when the stuff you’re selling and the stuff you’re competing against is bottom of the barrel cheap crap.  Too bad this strategy of perennial copying is shortsighted because it’s given me lawsuits, a crap reputation, and saturated my market with the same skinner box clone bullshit that makes it hard for me to get a hit in the first place.  But for you investors, we’ll pretend Pincus’ roadmap of nonstop IP ripoffs is a brilliant long term strategy and won’t generate any backlash.

Meanwhile, all the other heavyweights in my market like Playfish, and EA are also creatively bankrupt so we’ve all jacked each other into a theft orgy so ridiculous, no one remembers who originally created what anymore.  This should have been a roadblock for a company like me that can’t create a game on my own.  It’s okay though because I’ve found a solution – I’m now jacking indie developers.  This should sustain short-term profitability and keep you investors fooled.  After the indie backlash though, hopefully I can come up with some other shit to jack, or get acquired by EA, otherwise I’m doomed. Well, at least I’ll still have your $$$, right Pincus?

Dear Zynga, thank you for jacking our shit - Indie developer #1

So all you investors, don’t worry, I’m still the market leader in a market so dysfunctional, short-term profitability and dynamic market growth hides the fact my market will eventually implode.  My name is Zynga, and this has been a public service announcement.

Translation: Short me in a couple years.  Unless EA buys me out. Peace


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