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Turning down Zynga: Why I left after the $210M Omgpop buy
Turning down Zynga: Why I left after the $210M Omgpop buy
March 27, 2012 | By Shay Pierce

March 27, 2012 | By Shay Pierce
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[When Zynga paid around $210 million for Draw Something developer Omgpop last week, only one person turned down the offer to join the FarmVille house. Game designer and programmer Shay Pierce writes how a difference in values drove the decision.]

Millions of people are playing mobile game sensation Draw Something right now; and every game developer heard last week that the game's developer, Omgpop, was acquired by Zynga. Every business news outlet has reported that Omgpop was acquired along with all developers.

But that's not quite accurate: there was one Omgpop developer who didn't accept employment with Zynga -- and that was me. It made perfect financial sense for me to join, but in my case, Zynga asked for too much.

"I hope they don't make me choose between Connectrode and a job," I told my wife Laura. "I really hope that they don't turn it into that choice."

It was Tuesday night. News of the acquisition had been relayed to me only hours before. On Monday I'd worked a perfectly normal workday, with only the slightest rumor that something big might be happening. Fast-forward to 11 p.m. Tuesday: an Omgpop representative was telling me over the phone, "The boat is leaving, and you need to decide whether or not you're getting on board." Zynga had sent standard job offers to all of the current Omgpop employees earlier that day, for them to continue their employment under the new regime... and I was the one who hadn't already signed.

It was a reasonable contract. But there were a couple of consequences of signing it which concerned me. Zynga sells puzzle games on the iOS App Store. I sell a puzzle game on the iOS App Store. Was this a "conflict of interest" under the contract's definition, or not? If so, would Zynga act on that fact, or not? I didn't want to lose ownership of Connectrode, or have to remove it from the iOS App Store.

Connectrode is a game that I developed independently in 2011, while I was working as an independent contractor. I designed it on my own, did all the coding in my spare time, and contracted the visual and audio work to talented friends here in Austin. (I finished and submitted it to the App Store shortly after my employment with Omgpop began, with the company's awareness and permission.)

Financially, Connectrode had performed the same as most spare-time indie game projects: not terribly well. It was reviewed positively by TouchArcade, Joystiq, and others, and it was featured by Apple for three weeks; but it never broke into the top 10 or sold millions. It wasn't changing anyone's life.

But... I love Connectrode. It's a very personal creation. My wife (who's played hundreds of hours of Dr. Mario with me) encouraged me to make it; when you first launch the game, you see a dedication to her. (The code has a special case so that on her phone, this dedication appears on every launch.) And designing a compelling abstract puzzle game is more difficult than you might think -- I'm proud of it. It's not much, but it's mine.

And I was unable to get any assurance whatsoever that, by signing this job offer, I wasn't losing ownership or control of my creation.

Things were happening quickly -- I felt that the company's representatives were breathing down my neck. If I didn't sign, and sign soon, I wouldn't have a job. Everyone else had signed -- what was wrong with me?

When that 11 p.m. call came, the decision I'd feared was exactly the one I was being forced to make: Connectrode or a job with Zynga. I got off the phone and called my attorney. By 1 a.m. we'd drafted a very reasonable addendum to clarify my points. Connectrode makes almost no money anymore -- I knew it really shouldn't be a sticking point if Zynga wanted to give me a job offer. Surely a compromise was achievable, right? I emailed the addendum and went to sleep at 2 a.m.

Nine hours later, I was told that the addendum had been completely rejected -- there was no compromise here, and no getting around making this decision.

And then I wondered: why was I even trying to compromise? Zynga has an Austin studio, where several good friends of mine work. Yet I had never applied to Zynga. Why? Because the company's values are completely opposed to my own values, professionally and creatively. Because I believe that developers are at the front lines of game development and deserve to be treated well, and I didn't trust Zynga to do so. All this was still true -- except that their complete unwillingness to negotiate with me only confirmed my concerns. Why on earth was I even considering joining?

It's not easy to pass up a lucrative salary and solid benefits, of course. But I realized that ultimately I was letting myself be guided by simple inertia. I was part of a herd, and that herd was all going in one direction (and doing so with great urgency). I would really only be doing it for the sake of going with the flow, and responding to pressure to either conform to corporate expectations, or be left behind.

These are not good reasons to join a company whose values are the opposite of your own, or to compromise your ideals, or to give up control of something you rightfully own.

I politely declined to join Zynga and became the only Omgpop employee to be left behind. I don't have a job; but I can sleep soundly at night knowing that I'm not working for any employer with whom I strongly disagree.

Let me make a few things clear before I say anything else:
- I didn't work on Draw Something.

- I wasn't screwed. I had a small amount of equity in Omgpop, I received a compensation for that, and that was never at stake in this decision. The amount is not going to change my life but it's fair. I lost a job; that's all.

- I'm not bitter. I have zero complaints about anyone at Omgpop and I congratulate them for their success. Zynga had the right to ignore my attempts to negotiate; I had the right to walk away. This has all been legal and amicable.

- I was not directly asked to give up control of my indie game. I was only asked to sign a job offer -- which might have that legal consequence. (If this seems like a flimsy point over which to worry so much, ask yourself: if you were asked to sign a document that might mean that you lost custody of your child, with no assurances otherwise -- would you do so? I don't have a child, I have Connectrode.)

- I'm not an idealist. (I would love to be, but I work in an industry and I have a mortgage.) I've received paychecks from Zynga before: In late 2010 I was a full-time contractor for NewToy (on the Words with Friends client team) when that studio was also acquired by Zynga; I didn't balk at working with Zynga then. I've made many compromises in my nine-year career in professional game development, but this one was simply asking too much.

Zynga has been called "evil" by both industry pundits and former employees. I know many developers who find this claim naive. A company seeking profit is never "evil" from the perspective of its stockholders and employees -- employees who are normal, real people just trying to pay off mortgages and support their families. So what is "evil"? Can a company be evil?

When an entity exists in an ecosystem, and acts within that ecosystem in a way that is short-sighted, behaving in a way that is actively destructive to the healthy functioning of that ecosystem and the other entities in it (including, in the long term, themselves) -- yes, I believe that that is evil. And I believe that Zynga does exactly that.

A "good" company is one which provides goods or services of real value in exchange for a fair price. A good game company recognizes that its developers are the ones who create that value, and treats them as valuable, especially if they are good at what they do. It follows practices that are sustainable. And it ensures that, at the end of the day, the world is a little better for having their goods and services.

An evil company is trying to get rich quick, and has no regard for the harm they're doing along the way. It's not making things of value, it's chasing a gold rush. An evil game company isn't really interested in making games, it's too busy playing a game -- a game with the stock market, usually. It views players as weak-minded cash cows; and it views its developers as expendable, replaceable tools to create the machines that milk those cows. It follows unsustainable practices (like cloning or even completely screwing innovators; or abusing viral channels until they have to be curtailed) -- all practices which, in the long-term, not only make things worse for every other company in the industry, but ultimately for itself. Zynga is not the only one of these, but yes, they fit my definition.

Not everyone shares my values, and not everyone is in a position to pick and choose job offers. I know many good developers who work for Zynga -- especially now -- and their choice of employment doesn't change the respect that I have for them. They have their reasons and I have mine.

But I exhort game developers: don't join a company whose values are opposed to your own. Values aren't just for idealists -- they matter. If a company's practices make you uncomfortable, pay attention to your instincts and be true to them.

For my part, I'll be returning to a company I can be certain meets my definition of "good": I'm re-activating Deep Plaid Games, my personal company. It has one employee -- myself. I'll be contracting out my services as a generalist/gameplay programmer to other companies that follow sustainable practices, for projects that I think are worth making (or at least which don't actively make the world a worse place). Meanwhile I'll also be creating innovative and fun indie games that respect the time and intelligence of players.

It's not a business model that has attracted much VC funding to date -- I imagine you won't be reading any headlines about Deep Plaid being acquired by Zynga. But I can go to work and feel that I'm making works of value -- and that I'm making the world overall a better, more fun place.

[Shay Pierce is a professional game designer/programmer who has been making digital games since he was 13 years old, and professionally since 2003. He's worked for such employers as Blizzard, Midway, NewToy, and Omgpop. He is now sole proprietor of Deep Plaid Games LLC, an independent game development micro-studio. His views do not represent those of Omgpop or any other former employer. Rumors of his lycanthropy have been slightly exaggerated.]


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Comments


ed floyd
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It's reassuring to see that not all game developers are in it for the money.

Ryan Duffin
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Is this a serious statement? It's incredibly ignorant if so. Programmers who are "in it for the money" go to work for banks. There's many other industries for smart, educated people to make more by doing less work than making games.

Matt Hackett
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@Ryan: there's clearly a gold rush in casual/social/mobile games. There's also a legal loophole right now that allows game designs to be stolen. That's why Zynga is in the games business and not in banking or whatever else. They *are* in it for the money even though they're making games.

Mike Motschy
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@Matt a small percentage of large companies are making lots of money. But it's hardly a gold rush, I compare it to developing a website, you probably won't make much money, but the really good ones that are well funded stand a chance. So yes Zynga is in it for the money, and it shows through their games.

Jonathan Jou
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It's worth supporting Ryan's point here by mentioning that most software engineering companies the size of Zynga in other industries (like finance, defense, and, say, search/operating systems) regularly offer better salaries, easier hours, better benefits, and the kind of job security you don't find trying to make games for a living.

I probably can't emphasize enough that for the fresh Computer Science graduate, going into game development is almost *never* the most profitable option...

What Zynga and other big publishers do has nothing to do with what the people who develop the games (which I call game developers) do. I like to distinguish between the people who make the games and the people who worry more about profit margins and risk assessment than fun.

Benjamin Marchand
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It's also reassuring to see such an article on Gamasutra ... Over the last years, it seemed like everything was centered around capitalism.Anyway, I sincerely applaud this man for having the balls to say louder what a lot of us are thinking in silence. I wish passion, integrity and honor would be stronger values in those days ...

Ryan Duffin
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Exactly Jonathan. There is a difference between someone who's business is the games industry and someone who makes games for a living; aka a "game developer".

Anyone who pursues the latter line of work is in for a world of hurt in money is their primary motivation. It's insulting to imply that most *developers* are in it for the money when so much of this industry would fall apart if it wasn't for the passion and hard work of the people who make the actual games.

Camille Guermonprez
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Much respect for this decision, Sir.
It is also VERY appreciable to be able to read the reasons why you did so, in a peaceful manner, and well explained. I believe you did the right thing. Never give up your IP, especially if you do not share the core values of the buyer, and keep your head clear when things go too fast.

The faint cheer from Paris you might hear right now?
It's another indie studio celebrating your decision :)

Jim Smith
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Congratulations Shay. That said, Zynga has a standard prior invention assignment contract like everyone else. You could have listed your game on that and you would have been fine - easy, peasy.

Matthew Burns
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@Camille
Very nicely put. I could not have written it better.

Julian Pritchard
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Excellent piece Shay. Glad to hear that everything is going good for you :)

Shay Pierce
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One clarification: I didn't choose the title of this article and I am not confirming or denying any sum of how much the Zynga/OMGPOP buyout was for - I honestly was not privy to what that amount was, and I don't know anything more than the public information on that point.

Jonathan Jennings
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possibly the best article i've read on gamasutra love for developement and developing and sticking to your ideals, i wanna be like you when i grow up (as a developer) Shay :-)

Jeremie Sinic
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Cheers to you! All the best!

Arash Sammander
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Excellent article, good for you for following through with your beliefs when the incentive was to do otherwise.

West Latta
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Well played. I suggest you start up a Kickstartr campaign of some sort and watch how many people will support you simply to spite the industrialization and marginalization of game development and developers. :)

Camille Guermonprez
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He kind of already has a Kickstarter page, though.

It's called Connectrode :)

Buy TEN!
http://itunes.apple.com/app/connectrode/id438450056

Brian Linville
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There's a reason why we all chose this industry--because we want to be creative and care about what we create. It sounds to me like this was the only logical option.

Mikhail Mukin
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Weird. Most full time contracts I signed in the past had addendum listing works previously done by the person - to be excluded from the ownership issues. I'm surprised Zinga did not have this. For a company that is supposed to have strong legal dept this is either a bit oversight... or something intentional (for what purpose?).

Good luck with your project!

One note though... most of us ARE those "replaceable tools". Myself included. Sorry, this is just how game dev is - it is not that much unlike some other industries (maybe still less mature, and often managed by people w/o enough experience and education). Only a few people make high level creative decisions - if you are working on any sizable project with a team of, say, at least 20. Most of us just "make this vision happen". I don't think much would change on most projects I remember if you replace any engineer, or texture artist/modeler/animator, most designers. Yes, replacing project creative director, art director, design lead would probably make project a bit different, replacing tech director could slow it down. But unless you are working on a tiny team - most of us are "replaceable".

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"For a company that is supposed to have strong legal dept this is either a bit oversight... or something intentional (for what purpose?)."

Here's a hint: Zynga shamelessly copies the efforts of others for their core products. Of course they want to reap the benefit of as much work that they don't have to do as they can get away with.

Jake Birkett
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Yeah when I started working for Big Fish Games I was able to list my "prior inventions" so that they couldn't claim ownership of them. I also wouldn't have worked for them if they didn't allow this.

Very good point about how larger corporations are playing the Stock Market game (either they are already on it, or are positioning themselves to IPO). It definitely affects their decision making and the vibe of the company.

Malachi Griffie
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Znyga DOES have a standard prior invention form. All Seth needed to do was put his game on that form and Zynga has no legal right to it. If, for whatever reason, the game started making gangbuster money and Zynga noticed it, he would just show Legal that this game was listed as a prior invention and show that it was, in fact, developed prior to any employment with Zynga or OMGPOP.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"All Seth needed to do was put his game on that form and Zynga has no legal right to it."

If Zynga agreed to it. They could still say "we don't accept this, leave this game off this form or you lose your job". I don't think they would, just clarifying.

Vincent Dumont
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Very good article, it also reflects my thoughts. Good luck in your future projects.

E McNeill
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Wow. What class.

This stand is so lucid, so modest, so quietly principled... I'm an instant fan.

For others: http://www.deepplaid.com/

Neils Clark
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Indeed. Finely written post, Shay. How long has Deep Plaid's motto been, "We make interesting decisions."?

Tommy Refenes
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Shay, you made the right choice for sure. Great article, its one of the only ones I've read to completion in the last few months. Best of luck with everything.

Shay Pierce
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Tommy, your last game is one of the only ones I've played to completion in the last few years. (I didn't 100% it, though I did unlock The Kid after days trying.)

Thanks for making it, and I really appreciate the kind words!

Michael Meyer
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<3

Dave Gilbert
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Shay. Congratulations on getting me to finally register on Gamasutra so I could comment. Since you worked at OMG, does that mean you are from the NYC area? If so, please consider coming to the NYC Indie Drink night tomorrow night at No Idea Bar. Your money will be no good.

Lars Doucet
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This article is awesome. In particular I appreciate the rare combination of standing up for what one's values with candor, nuance, compassion, and the complete absence of of rantiness.

This is how it's done, folks.

Michael Rooney
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Just an issue on your 'companies being evil' bit. The end result of a company appearing evil is not entirely the fault of the company. It is a symptom of a flawed system (in Zynga's case, US copyright law). Companies can only be expected to do their best to either make the most profit possible or increase their size as much as possible given the environment they are in. There is nothing evil or good about any of it once a company goes public; they have a legal obligation to do the previously mentioned.

What we are seeing in the case of Zynga is what happens when a gardener stops tending the garden. A weed is not evil for being a weed.

Just want to be sure the blame isn't being misplaced. Being angry at Zynga will not provide any meaningful change to the ecosystem; being angry at policy makers at least has a chance of that.

(Still totally respect your decision. o/ )

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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If you believe in any meaningful definition for the word 'evil', Zynga was evil long before the IPO. For example, this: http://gamasutra.com/view/news/30353/Zynga_Staff_Told_To_Copy_Com
petition_Claims_Senior_ExEmployee.php (link from the article) occured before Zynga went public.

But yeah, the system is definitely flawed. I just think in Zynga's case the leadership there is morally flawed as well.

scott stevens
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@Michael - I think the main difference here is choice. Weeds do not choose to pop up in the garden where they do harm - but thinking people run companies. Companies are not mindless automatons that run per chance. People running companies make the decisions that cause harm. Even if there is no legal prevention of these actions, if you are consciously making a choice that causes harm in the pursuit of profit - that choice could be construed as an "evil" one".

This is not because the decision to do harm is a legal choice - it is a moral choice.

Jacob Germany
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Are you seriously contending that Zynga is legally obligated to clone games? To abuse "social"/viral systems? To pursue litigation against companies for doing exactly what they do on a consistent basis, while also not changing their own behavior? To squash innovation in the industry for the sake of mimicry of previously successful examples?

If so, well... I'd disagree.

Michael Rooney
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Where did I say any of that Jacob? I said they have a legal obligation to do everything in their power to try to increase the value of their shareholders' investment; ie making a profit/growing the size and value of the company.

If the ecosystem isn't being properly regulated and the best way for them to do the above is through the means you describe, the solution isn't to try to stop Zynga. 1. They won't stop just because you are mad at them. 2. Without a meaningful change to the ecosystem, if they did stop, somebody else would just take their place.

Do not mistake my post for glorifying anything Zynga does. I don't particularly like their games, and I don't value their creative process. I just take issue with vilifying a large company for doing exactly what a large company should be expected to do in Zynga's situation while ignoring the deep systemic problems that are the actual cause of everything you're so upset with.

It's easy to hate Zynga for this, but just like the 'Occupy' protests the hate is just being cleverly shifted from the entities who actually have any power to change something (politicians/policy makers) to an entity who happens to be better at taking advantage of the ecosystem in which they are put (Zynga/the 1%). Being angry at the latter accomplishes nothing if you do not acknowledge the former.

Perhaps the garden metaphor was lost on you, but if you have an exploit in your game is it the player's fault for taking advantage of it or yours for putting it in the game to begin with?

Jacob Germany
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I reread what you said, just to make sure. While you seem to contend that you said nothing of the sort, you stated that Zynga is not "evil" (let's say unethical or immoral, as it's a bit less extremist) because of the "garden". They are just doing what they are "legally obligated" to do.

I still can't read anything into that other than the direct implication that Zynga is appropriate and legally obligated to engage in unethical behavior simply because it's legal.

And to that, I would still disagree. It's less like a "weed" in a garden and more like, well, some sort of vegetable thief, if you really want to use a garden metaphor. Zynga is not "innocent", nor is it simply doing what it must. There are plenty of public companies that do not engage in shady behavior. This is for many reasons, the least of which aren't reputation, the longevity of the company, the longevity of the industry, basic ethics and principles, etc.

And, I'm not sure you're accurate in simply stating that the Occupy protests or Zynga critics are just mad and ignoring the systemic problems. But to ignore the biggest perpetrators of unethical behavior simply because the rules in place have yet to change seems to me misguided.

Michael Rooney
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"I still can't read anything into that other than the direct implication that Zynga is appropriate and legally obligated to engage in unethical behavior simply because it's legal."

I didn't say they were being anything near ethical, but if nobody is regulating then somebody will be unethical and will grow because of it; that may as well be Zynga. Being mad at them doesn't stop anything if you aren't upset with the system that supports it.

The weed metaphor is quite accurate. Weeds tend to be fast growing and adapt to changes faster than other plants which lets them take advantage of resources faster; blocking sunlight, consuming water, and some are parasitic stealing nutrients directly from other plants. They hurt the garden because they are better able to take advantage of the ecosystem and make it impossible for the other plants to grow. You shouldn't blame a weed for ruining the garden even if you dislike the weed; it's the gardener's fault the weed was allowed to spread and damage the ecosystem.

"And, I'm not sure you're accurate in simply stating that the Occupy protests or Zynga critics are just mad and ignoring the systemic problems. But to ignore the biggest perpetrators of unethical behavior simply because the rules in place have yet to change seems to me misguided."
As far as I can tell I am one of maybe 5 people to even mention that there are systemic problems in a comment section with ~150 comments. Like I said a couple times, I don't condone anything Zynga does, but ignoring the systemic problems so you can be mad at a single entity (the 1%:Occupy::Zynga:this discussion) is not seeing the forest for the trees.

I am not saying to ignore Zynga; I am saying not to ignore the systemic problems. Regardless of what you're saying, people ARE ignoring the systemic problems in lieu of being mad at Zynga. How is that any less misguided than anything I'm saying?

Jacob Germany
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And I agree, people shouldn't ignore the systemic problems. I was simply stating that your words at least appeared to be absolving Zynga of "evil"ness for the sake of the legality of their behavior. I agree that we should definitely attempt to resolve the grey legal areas that affect this young industry in the best way possible for all.

But I also simply wanted to express that calling Zynga out, even focusing on Zynga as an example of poor ethics, has a very solid and very important role in the process. The more Shay Pierces, the more Rovios, the more PopCaps we can encourage, the less a stranglehold Zynga will have over the industry.

The more we can shine a light on their practices, even if there are other (less powerful) players who do the same, the more we can use social and public pressures to prevent others from doing the same, or to prevent employees from blindly following the "stable job" offer, or to prevent indie developers from selling what should be a passion to an 800-pound cannibalistic gorilla that is not going to "continue" whatever dream formed the company.

And I think that's my point. That, while the mechanics of the policies are important, so are the social roles, the chastising and the discussion of ethics and morality, and the importance of seeing examples of someone like Shay who can say "My unprofitable creation is more important than a steady paycheck from you". In other words, there's more than one gardener, and they all help yank out those evil weeds.

Jesse Fuchs
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You know, if we've narrowed the debate down to "Zynga: Evil, or just instinctively rapacious in the manner of something that ranks below slime mold in terms of sentience?" I'm willing to call it a day.

Kepa Auwae
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Great article. It's nice to see another iOS developer not just in it for the money.

Matthew Mouras
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A fabulous read. Thanks for sharing your decision with Gamasutra in such a professional and candid way. All the best to you and Deep Plaid. I'll follow your studio with interest.

John Millar
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Thanks for sharing, I think you made the right choice. Good luck with your new adventure and looking forward to seeing what comes out from your creative freedom.

Jim Perry
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< applause >

Kudos for standing up for what you believe in. If I had an iDevice, I'd support you by buying every game you do. If you release a version of Connectrode for Windows Phone, I'll buy it (if you want to do a port, I'd be happy to work with you on it ;D).

Luke Quinn
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Very inspiring article; All the best with whatever you decide to do from here.
If nothing else, you've at least sold me on a copy of Connectrodes :D

Marc-Andre Caron
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Gamasutra desperately needs a "like" button for articles like this one.

In the absence of such a feature, I say: "LIKE" (All caps well deserved)

Leonardo Millan
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Amazing article. If this was a speech, I'd be standing up and applauding right now.

Cartrell Hampton
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Hey.

Excellent article. I'm glad you stood your ground and remained true to your convictions. I ain't mad at 'cha.

Good SKILL to you in your own business.
* salutes *

Principle > whatever. End of story.

_______________________
- Ziro out.

Jorge Diaz
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Great story, great conviction.

Knight T
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Great read. Grabbed a copy of Connectrode to support you. :)

Sam Robinson
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It seems that my opinion may be somewhat controversial.

I work for an independent games studio and make games purely for the joy of making games, not money. That said, I am hesitant to jump on the Zynga-hate bandwagon.

To say that a company is 'evil' for being ruthlessly competetive, successful and having little regard for it's competition is, in my opinion, slightly naive as it's really a defintion of many, many businesses from all types of industry.

Of course they're your definition of 'evil,' but Zynga's M.O is to be expected of any massive corporation.

Yes, Zynga may be raking in a lot of the money that goes around the digital download space, but it's this sense of entitlement that small indie developers have about it that really gets me, as though this relatively young sector of the games industry somehow belongs to small indie developers by right. It doesn't. Everybody has to fight for a slice of that pie.

I don't love Zynga, but I also don't hate them. Evil? Maybe, but so are countless other corporations.

This article does seem OTT and quite slanderous (saying that they make games purely for money whilst also stating in the same article that good developers work for Zynga, which is surely a contradiction as those good developers must care about making good games right?) for what is essentially an encounter with Zynga, in which it seems Omgpop rushed through a sale without consulting their own staff far enough in advance to comfortably migrate.

Had it occured to anyone that they hadn't gone over the details of this individual contract because said individual hadn't even worked on Draw Something, which is the sole reason this company was bought?

I'm not intending to be offensive, I like anyone who develops games and have the utmost respect for the author. But in this climate of Zynga-hate propaganda, I feel it's all to easy to point fingers at the company.

E McNeill
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This is a straw man argument. You are not responding to the author's definition of evil, to wit: "When an entity exists in an ecosystem, and acts within that ecosystem in a way that is short-sighted, behaving in a way that is actively destructive to the healthy functioning of that ecosystem and the other entities in it (including, in the long term, themselves)".

Sam Robinson
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Well, it's that accusation of Zynga that I'm responding to. It's a pretty strong tirade against the company for not hearing back from them about his contract in what is described as a short period of time, no?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"To say that a company is 'evil' for being ruthlessly competetive, successful and having little regard for it's competition is, in my opinion, slightly naive as it's really a defintion of many, many businesses from all types of industry."

Many businesses from all types of industry are evil. This shouldn't be news to anyone by now. What's your point?

"Yes, Zynga may be raking in a lot of the money that goes around the digital download space, but it's this sense of entitlement that small indie developers have about it that really gets me, as though this relatively young sector of the games industry somehow belongs to small indie developers by right. It doesn't. Everybody has to fight for a slice of that pie."

??? I know the word entitlement has been perverted beyond all hope to mean "Greedy", but now... now it's greedy from small studios that make games for the love of it to want a chance at success without a corporation run by talentless rich hacks who care nothing about gaming stealing their ideas and out marketing them??? And if we are going to treat business as a colosseum for everyone to fight for their slice of the pie, then what is wrong with people fighting Zynga (the largest) target?????

"Entitlement" from small indie studios... really??

"This article does seem... quite slanderous"

This article isn't slanderous (though libelous would be the correct term for written text) in the least. It is a calm recollection of his business transactions with Zynga. At worst it would be an infringement of an NDA if he is saying things he signed away his right to say. In order for it to be libel, it has to be harmful to Zynga (possibly, though they've made their own bed in the dev community a looong time ago) AND factually incorrect.

"saying that they make games purely for money whilst also stating in the same article that good developers work for Zynga, which is surely a contradiction as those good developers must care about making good games right?"

No. Good developers are human with human needs and will take jobs at bad places when they need money. They do this instead of starting their own studio because they have to. Their own studio would likely fail as it competes with the big players that they end up having to work for, big players that will clone and out-market them at the slightest sign of success. Or buy your company without your company consulting its own staff far enough in advance to comfortably mitigrate. Revealed preference is a lie that masks coercion.

"Had it occured to anyone that they hadn't gone over the details of this individual contract because said individual hadn't even worked on Draw Something, which is the sole reason this company was bought?"

It doesn't matter. You don't have a right to someone's work that they completed before you even met them. You don't have a right to take their job and dangle it over their head unless they give you said work. The fact that owning your own work is not the default hypothesis in a job negotiation is a sign of a horrendous trend that true developers need to fight every step of the way. The fact that Shay had equity is immaterial to the issue of corporations using their power to gate who has a job (by purchasing your employer or strong arming you out of the market) because this trend affects those who don't have such a luxury.

"I like anyone who develops games and have the utmost respect for the author."
"I... make games purely for the joy of making games, not money."

If these statements are true, please research Zynga further as well as the exploitative practices of the game industry (they affect you even if you don't work for one of the Big Evil Corporations).

Jonathan Jennings
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As i learn more about how the game industry functions i am learning there is a massive difference between developers and managers of developement projects . when we criticize monetization efforts and designing/ developing for profit usually its directed at the management who often times care little for artistic merit but are more focused on the bottom line. When Shay refers to Zynga being evil and having good developers he is referring to two different faces of the same entity. i have met several very kind and passionate developers who work for studios i am not fond of the developers role is nothing more than to bring the managements vision to life. However the ethics and practices of the studio/company as a wholeare controlled by management typically. just trying to clarify you can have passionate good people working for a company that has little to no love for its product or customers.

and i apologize to any managers who i offend in advance

Sam Robinson
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Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the in-depth reply. Please understand that I'm not here to start a fight, I'm merely expressing my opinion and asking questions before going along with the witch burning. I was under the impression that this was a place of civility and such things could be discussed.

Many of your points may well be true, about Zynga exploiting the work of others. My point was that this particular situation described by the author didn't involve anyone stealing/exploiting work.

All I gleaned from this was that he didn't get assurance. My point was that I found the author's thoughts on Zynga were pretty strong for this lone situation that he described. If his thoughts on Zynga are the result of other factors not mentioned in this article, then it's not that well a written article, is it?

I am also not completely naive to exploitative business practice in the games industry, I've been on the receiving end of it. As such I've learned that creating games that cannot be cloned quickly and marketing them as fast and effectively as possible is the best line of defense against exploitation/cloning.

Thanks again, your reply was insightful.

Michael Rooney
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@Jeff:
"No. Good developers are human with human needs and will take jobs at bad places when they need money. They do this instead of starting their own studio because they have to. Their own studio would likely fail as it competes with the big players that they end up having to work for, big players that will clone and out-market them at the slightest sign of success."

Good developers in San Francisco, where Zynga is based, have no reason to take jobs at bad places regardless of monetary need. Bad developers might have a reason.

" Or buy your company without your company consulting its own staff far enough in advance to comfortably mitigrate."

Clearly this was Zynga's fault.................................................................... ......................................................................... ...........................................................

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the in-depth reply. Please understand that I'm not here to start a fight"

Hey, sure, I got you :). But to me, "slightly naive" and "this sense of entitlement that small indie developers have" are -- well, if not fighting words, then at least a little aggressive and offensive, and perhaps... ah, well, naive in and of themselves. I believe the small indie developers are the ones that should be succeeding because they are the ones more likely to be making games out of love with enriching the audience in mind instead of exploiting the audience. And yeah, there are probably bad small developers that we don't hear about every day like Zynga because they haven't hit it big enough to start exploiting people (even Zynga had to start somewhere), so yeah generalizing either way is not 100% accurate.

I'm not sure how much you've kept up with Zynga, but this is just another drop in the bucket for them. Off the top of my head, and in roughly chronological order:

1.) Their CEO gave a speech to some soon to be college students talking about how he was involved in getting people to download some software that even he didn't know how to uninstall, something about a Zwinky toolbar. Here is the video: http://vimeo.com/3738428. Here is the relevant quote (watch the video if you want context): "I knew that i wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues, right, fucking, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I dont know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs*"

So yeah, a CEO that laughs about doing every horrible thing in the book and gives it as advice to a new generation of, if I may use the word, entitled college business students trying to find ways to funnel money into their pockets without regards to the consequences to society does not set a good impression.

2.) Zynga got popular by spamming. http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecos
ystem-of-hell/. Any defense of Zynga like "well they can't be that bad if they have millions of users" needs to consider this. How many of our games could get millions of users if we pushed civility to the curb and spammed people? This goes beyond the inconvenience of spam, as that link shows: other developers are put in a tough situation where they have to behave unethically to keep up as they watch Zynga suck up the market. This is what happens when everyone has to "fight for a slice of pie", and why in a civilized society (which we don't have), there would be no fighting. There would be competition, sure, but it would be healthy and would reward those who contribute to society, not those who game it. But that's getting philosophical; moving on.

3.) Zynga clones games. http://www.edge-online.com/features/how-zynga-cloned-its-way-succ
ess. They do not put in the work to come up with gameplay mechanics, they simply pounce on what is popular and outmarket it. In the case of Tiny Tower, they cloned it after a failed acquisition: http://www.gamesbrief.com/2012/01/zyngas-cloning-protection-racke
t/. And when someone tries to give Zynga a taste of their own medicine? They do what the small "entitled" indie devs can't afford to do: sue http://www.betabeat.com/2011/06/17/zynga-sues-vostu-for-copying-i
ts-rip-offs/.

4.) Zynga does not treat their employees with much respect either. They were caught blackmailing employees to give up their stock options or lose their jobs. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-57322150-17/zynga-to-employees-
give-back-our-stock-or-youll-be-fired/. Just to clarify, stock options are given to talent in place of a higher salary that they could get at a more stable company. It is totally unfair to tell someone "I know I can't pay you as much because we haven't hit it big yet, and I know this is a gamble for you, but if we hit it big you'll get a piece of that pie", then tell them they don't get that piece of pie when you hit it big after getting their labor for a steal.

I'm sure there are other controversies I have forgotten about or that haven't been leaked yet. I'm just bringing these things up so you know that the hatred for Zynga isn't naive or a witch hunt; we've already found the witch, and she keeps causing problems :).

"I am also not completely naive to exploitative business practice in the games industry, I've been on the receiving end of it."

I'm sorry to hear that. This has become one of my goals, to prevent this from happening. The talent in a given industry is its blood and deserves better than to be used and abused by suits. I will do whatever it takes to remedy this atrocity. Zynga buying Omgpop is not a good thing; anything that gives such an especially evil company power is not a good thing. Consolidation and monopolization are neither good for the worker nor the consumer; merely good for the nouveau riche parasites. Shay's story is just one example of many trials caused by Zynga's selfish and blind rampage.

"Good developers in San Francisco, where Zynga is based, have no reason to take jobs at bad places regardless of monetary need. Bad developers might have a reason."

Completely off topic.

" Or buy your company without your company consulting its own staff far enough in advance to comfortably mitigrate."

Clearly this was Zynga's fault.................................................................... ......................................................................... ..........................................................."

1.) I never said it was Zynga's fault.

2.) It is Zynga's fault. It's either their fault or OMGPOP. OMGPOP doesn't exist anymore; they merged with the borg. There is only Zynga. Therefore, the blame (or glory, if you like this sort of thing) lies solely with them. But that is beside any point discussed thus far.

John Nwogu
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I'm a developer at Zynga and during the hiring process I had to list all of my preexisting projects. There's at least one case where I've seen this come up and I know that the individual and his project were not pursued by the company. I do feel that Zynga has no choice but to honor it as it's a legal contract. I don't think this practice is wrong in any way. It gave me piece of mind knowing that Zynga and I came to an understanding that my previous projects don't fall under their umbrella.I'm not sure what happened in your case Shay, but either way I hope everything works out for you. I installed the game and it's pretty fun. I hope you make an ipad version at some point :).

raigan burns
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Well done.

Marko Heijnen
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Great story, I loved how you write your story down. I fully understand your story. Companies should appreciate their employers more. I also got sued by my previous employer. It's all in because they can, they not should do it. In the end it's protecting themselves when the really need to and not care about their employees.

I do believe when you truly believe in yourself you can make your dreams come true. Create things you like and earning big money with it should be a positive side effect.

Robert Boyd
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Claps.

Alex Leighton
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Inspiring article, it takes a lot of guts to stand alone and not sacrifice your values.

Kale Menges
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My kind of dev. Best of luck to you, man.

Bostjan Troha
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So, if Zynga would discuss your terms and you'd reach a compromise, you'd join them? The evil supervillain of the industry and vicious exploiter of humanity would suddenly become oh-not so evil and not so exploitative? This will sound harsh, but I think you're looking for plausible excuses to justify your decision.

Damir Slogar
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I felt the same way reading the article. Not accepting the job because they didn't agree to your terms and not accepting it for moral reasons is not the same.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Except he goes on to say that he realized he didn't want the job anyway, that was just the icing on the cake of making him realize it.

Jacob Germany
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What Jonathan said. It sometimes helps to read the full article before making some counter-point.

Eric Kinkead
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Hey good for you buddy, you will not regret your decision. Brave decisions met with courage and honesty are eventually met with great reward, and not all monetary.

ron carmel
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respect, shay. i admire your integrity and moderate tone.

David Pierre
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Is Connectrode on Android? The least I can do for a fellow jobless indie dev is support their game.

Joel Nystrom
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"creating innovative and fun indie games that respect the time and intelligence of players [is] not a business model that has attracted much VC funding to date" - I don't know about that, it's all about the hits. A creative and innovative environment is a bed for new, creative and innovative games, and those are the ones that ever become huge hits.

Chris MacDonald
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I think this is a very respectful decision you have made in standing behind your values and rights. Connectrode was the best $.99 I spent in a long time! What makes this article so compelling for me is that it is told from a human perspective in the shades of grey that make up a human experience.

On a side note, what gets lost in many of these acquisition stories is what happens to the employees after the acclimation period. Zynga bought OMGPOP because they saw something of value in the company. Most companies do not purchase another of perceived value but rather what they can do to add value and increase profit. Besides a larger publication base, I'm curious in what Zynga feels they can do with OMGPOP to add value. My gut instinct is that OMGPOP will actually add more value to Zynga, as Zynga desperately needs to diversify away from Facebook to help their share price. In cases like this, it seems typical that the purchased company basically gets gutted for its brain trust and technologies. As well, OMGPOP had used up almost $16 million in VC funds and didn't have any more money coming, so a lot of shareholders were looking for a cash out. It will be interesting to look back upon this and see what happens to the remaining OMGPOP employees once life as part of Zynga settles in.

Henrik Namark
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Respect. I understand your rethorics and know how you feel. Some people will read what you wrote and only see black and white. Evil or good. I think that if we sat down and had a talk you would probably, just as me, enjoy the grayzones. Zynga is not Hitler. They don't kill people. But they do kill creativity, which is in a way abstract. Damnit, I better quit before I'm also the victim of nerd rage.

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck in the future.

GameViewPoint Developer
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I think it's easy to paint certain companies as this or that based upon the perceived "wisdom" of the time. Zynga are very good at the business of what they do, but equally we all have to make decisions based upon what feels right to us, decisions we can live with.

Tejas Shirodkar
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What you did sir, requires a lot of courage! Kudos to you and good luck for the future!

Mike Kasprzak
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I smiled.

Eric Cosky
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Many people dedicated to making games such as Shay, myself, and probably a lot of people reading this do it not just for work, but for fun, relaxation, as a hobby, as a lifestyle. To have employment contracts that grant the company every thought that enters our mind, every artistic expression, and every bit of code we write, regardless of if it has any meaningful connection with the job we have, is an unconscionable and unacceptable overreach that has become the corporate standard and needs to stop. It didn't use to be this way, and it doesn't need to be this way, but so long as the law allows it and people are willing to sign on the dotted line it will continue to happen.

I can appreciate the legal department's need for making sure they have proper control of the company IP. Having former employees come back years later and claim they owned some key technology would be a hassle at best and a nightmare at worst so it is understandable why they have to address this issue.However, the current standard of "we own you and everything you do, or GTFO" is an overly broad stroke that punishes both the individuals and the companies who risk alienating some of the most creative and dedicated people in the industry by essentially telling them that they can never really escape the job, their hobbies are no longer theirs, while at the same time dismissing their passion as having such little potential that it is not even worthy of a serious discussion about what would happen if the hobby projects beat the odds and became successful. It's not right, and plays a big part of the "corporate slave" mentality I have seen - and felt - all too often in the past. You aren't a free person if nothing you do is yours.

I would like to think that a properly motivated company could come up with a legal framework that could solve the IP ownership issues in a way that is more in tune with the needs of the developers without compromising their bottom line or exposing the company to future legal risks. Companies that made it known they have an enlightened IP policy would be a much more attractive place for people to work at and would also benefit from the fact their staff is both willing and happy to do things in their free time to be better developers.This situation isn't going to change overnight though.

Hopefully people will start communicating how deeply important it is that we are able to do our own thing with our own time, have ownership of what we do outside of work, and that there simply has to be - and there must be - a better solution than what is currently the the de-facto requirement for employment in the game industry.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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If I could like your post 100 times, Eric, I would.

Carlo Delallana
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"An evil game company isn't really interested in making games, it's too busy playing a game -- a game with the stock market"This the classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Its driven by people who could care less if gaming goes by the wayside as they could easily apply themselves to other industries. There's hope though. Many dedicated developers, artists, designers that are passionate about games and the value they provide to players are working for these "evil game companies". There is a chance to affect change from the ground up.

Derek Smart
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I have friends at Zynga. They're only there because everyone needs a job and a paycheck. But the general consensus is that the suits at Zynga are assholes. All of them. No exceptions.So this dev blog does not surprise me. Though I expect that now you are going to be pressured into either taking it down, rewording it or whatever. Please do NOT touch it as it is well within the realms of Free Speech. Especially since you never worked for Zynga and your NDA (if you have one) with OMGPOP probably does not survive termination (as it would) and probably isn't even in violation based on what you've written.

Derek Smart
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..and it is bullshit like this that continues to KILL creativity. Yet people wonder why - for the most part - most of the games in this space are the usual regurgitated bullshit.

Matt Hackett
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Good for you, Shay. Well done!

Mike Bithell
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Not all games companies are like this sir. I'm lucky to work at a social games company called Bossa Studios by day, and work on my own indie project, 'Thomas Was Alone' in the evenings.

In my case, the games are different enough that there's no potential for conflict of interest. Ultimately, there are options out there who want a foot in both camps.

Matt Coohill
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Shay, nothing negative here, just painfully curious if you'd be so bold as to write another quick article about what happened before and after this article regarding your job search and sales of Connectrode.

I am in no way trying to state that your purpose for writing this is for self profit (finding another job or selling your previously existing product) but for me, well, curiosity killed the Nyan Cat. :)

Steven An
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I'm guessing the answer will be, "sales went up." It's how indie marketing works. Look at Jonathan Blow - he gives talks all over the place, and a huge effect of that is that his games get huge publicity. And as long as what they're saying is worth listening to, I'm OK with that.

Steven An
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Best of luck, sir.

And hey, looks like Connectrode is gonna get a lot more attention :)

Jashan Chittesh
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Kudos to you for doing the right thing and letting the world know about it!

I hope your article will inspire other game developers to make wise choices on who they work for instead of playing the victim-with-no-other-option game and in doing so ruining their own lifes and the industry. There are always alternatives - even though those might come with their own, significant challenges.

In the end, it's really very simple: As long as people are willing to work for companies that suck, on projects that suck or under conditions that suck, that which sucks will be something everyone has to deal with - and those people are naturally the ones who suffer most. Eventually, enough customers and employees will realize their power and make intelligent choices based on inspiration and sustainability instead of making choices based on fear and ignorance.

This will change the world for good quicker than most would even dare dreaming of, so I applaud everyone willing to take those first steps. Those are the true super heros of our time. Seriously!

Good luck, Shay! And of course I just bought Connectrode and downloaded Great Land Grabs PLUS!, and will write reviews once I played those games ;-)

Christopher Enderle
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Machines to milk cash cows, eh? Sounds like another collab between The Chinese Room and Frictional.

Now things are getting meta...

Victoria Rosendahl
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Ah. Refreshing. Best of the best, Shay.

John Flush
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Well, connectrode has already got my $.99 - any plans on giving it an iPad graphics lift?

Best of luck out there by the way.

Mike Smith
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Yup, same thing happened when Headgate studios was acquired by EA. About 5 people ended up leaving because of IP control issues.

http://elecorn.com/blog/2006/12/headgate-assimilated-by-ea/

Ray Long
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Stick to your guns Shay. Independents are the future of creativity and we need to push the envelope because the bloated, uncreative executives of the big companies aren't going to do it.

Paul Johnson
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Kudos, Shay.

I almost could've written that myself. Zynga tried to buy out my tiny firm. "Great Little War Game" being it's only output worth mentioning and we're only 3 guys working in a barn for middling profit. Dumb to turn them down? Nope, I make decent money already and now I don't need to move to London.

I totally get your decision and genuinely never understand why some might see it as odd. I hope everything works out for you.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Zynga made an offer you couldn't refuse and you refused? Watch out for a clone of your game in the near future my friend :(.

http://www.gamesbrief.com/2012/01/zyngas-cloning-protection-racke
t/

Joe Canose
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Paul,

As I recall... and I was involved in this firsthand... your company approached Zynga in an attempt to sell your game. Being a contact at Zynga, I attempted to help you guys out and set everything up to get GLWG in front of the right people. It was quite the effort. GLWG is a good game and I saw great potential in it. Ultimately nothing came of this.

I don't appreciate you jumping on this slanderous bandwagon, considering that I tried to help you out when you guys came to me. Please get your facts straight before you post something like this, which seems to be just a plug for your game.

Regards,

Joe C.

Paul Johnson
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Joe, I recall that meeting well and thought it went pleasantly myself. A fair inquiry was made and we turned it down for the reasons stated, which also sounds reasonable to me. Where you find something slanderous in that, I have no idea.

But to set the record straight, you guys contacted us. I never did understand why, but I have the mails here if you wanna read em.

Derek Smart
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OK that's not fair. You're comparing Apples to Oranges and in that, I have to side with Joe C.

If you felt so bad about it, why didn't you write your own OpEd?

Fact is, for as long as I've been doing this, I've seen deals go sideways all the time for one reason or the other. In this instance, Shay's decision has more to do with principles than anything else. So his situation is totally different from yours.

Oh and Joe C, this is not slander (the spoken form) at all. I believe the word you are loking for is libel (the written form). Both of which are covered under "defamatory" conduct.

However, what Paul has written is covered under protected speech and is not libel at all. Especially since it appears to express an opinion.

None of this changes the fact that Zynga suits are notorious assholes.

Joe Canose
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Thanks Derek. You're right, I misused the word. Perhaps I was just too focused on what I saw as the intent of Paul's message, and didn't think about the semantics of my own message. Regardless, I was reacting to what I saw as him jumping on the bandwagon, when clearly he had not gotten his facts straight. I have no intention of accusing him of any punishable offense, but only expressing my disappointment in his post.

As a lighthearted side note, I don't think I've ever seen anyone here at Zynga actually wearing a suit. ;)

Paul Johnson
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Sheesh, touchy crowd in here. Sorry to necro this but for some reason I forgot to check for fallout at the time, and now I'm just catching up and want to set the record straight.

You are right that our circumstances were different to Shays, and we weren't pressured at all etc. I don't read anything where I claim that either. In fact I was impressed by you Joe and would've like to work with you in different circumstances.

But the point I was making, obviously badly, is that it's not an "auto accept" decision when a big guy wants to buy out a little guy, and us turning them down is another example where it made much sense to do so.

Quite how so much extra got read into my several lines, I can only blame it on the usual "everyones attacking" default stance of teh internets, as there's nothing in my post!

Marc Wilhelm
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Congrats Shay. Good luck.

Colby Schneider
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Good for you Sir!

Randy Monteith
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Respect Shay. Saw this articale on Flipboard and traced it back to here. Bought the game and my wife loves it too! Love the Credits at the beginning. You will go on to BIGGER THINGS!!

Gerald Belman
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That's funny. Your thinking about how you can maintain control over your game and then you realize the absolute ridiculousness of having to worry about losing control over something you created in your spare time.

If your a painter and you've been hired to paint a portrait of someone - that person doesn't own the portrait you create of your own wife.

If your not happy with someone's job performance because you think they are spending too much of their free time developing their own game - fire them or threaten them to stop - don't make some ridiculous contractual obligation that anything they create in their spare time belongs to you.

Seth Allison
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Hey there, Shay! Sorry to hear you won't be joining the team.

I should probably introduce myself, my name is Seth and I'm the game designer for Zynga with Friends SF, I worked on Words with Friends and designed Scramble with Friends. I may not have ended up working with you, since you weren't on Draw Something, but I think I can speak to a few points in this article.

Zynga absolutely has a prior inventions form, I know I filled it out. Many employees have personal projects or side games, we even plug them to each other on company email. I'm sorry if that wasn't communicated well enough, probably a factor of the speed of the acquistion.

I would like to implore many people in this thread to re-consider your stance on Zynga though. It's quite demoralizing to not be able to go onto any industry site and never see your employer or products in a positive light, usually based on assumptions or hearsay. It isn't our policy to beat up employees for their fun ideas and take them without money or credit, despite what you may have heard. None of our designers are clamoring to make bad or exploitative games, or 'clone' other games.

I've never met any of the 'psycho-mathematicians' we supposedly employ, Mark Pincus has never come to my desk with his pitchfork and forked tongue to tell me that if I don't copy a game line for line or else I'm up for human sacrifice. In fact, when I talk to my friends at Blizzard, Bioware, Riot, EA, or any other big game company, my day sounds pretty similar to theirs. Certainly more in common with them than a corrupt Wall St banker, or a mini BF Skinner with intent to destroy society. I'm sorry if you got that impression from Kotaku, reddit and this site full of industry professionals, I hope if you ever decide to leave the indie field, that Zynga doesn't bear a scarlet Z in your mind. I am a hardcore gamer and I love working at Zynga. It's really, truly, not evil.

I wish you and Connectrode the best of luck however! Enjoy your brief break from working life :)

Bruno Patatas
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Good reply, Seth! Btw, congratulations on Scramble with Friends. Nice, cool game :)

Lars Doucet
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I definitely understand where you're coming from Seth, and I do know what it's like to get piled on by an internet hate mob, and I definitely sympathize with you there.

I can't speak for anyone else, but as for myself:I'm pretty sure there's lots of nice, friendly, professional, morally upstanding people working for Exxon Mobil, Monsanto, McDonald's, and Walmart, too.

That doesn't change the fact that I have problems with the broad policies of those companies (and Blizzard, Bioware, Ea, etc, for that matter).To use another metaphor: there's plenty of nice, friendly, professional, morally upstanding people who work for or are citizens of the United States of America (myself included, hopefully), and yet it's an observable fact that there are policies of that country that could be rightly called "evil" by most people's standard without resorting to exaggeration and hyperbole.

As for Zynga, there's plenty of verifiable facts to base these complaints on, not just internet rumors.

NOBODY likes it when someone calls out an organization you belong to as "evil." That doesn't mean we should drop the word from our vocabulary, or that you necessarily have to renounce your affiliation with your organization (whether it's a country, a corporation, a religion, etc). Instead one should be challenged by it and strive to improve the organization, rather than ignoring the complaints, so long as they're reasonable (which I think they are).

Gerald Belman
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Oh crap - the please don't screw me form. Of course.

http://answers.onstartups.com/questions/19422/if-im-working-at-a-
company-do-they-have-intellectual-property-rights-to-the-st

It sounds like this is the "appendum" he was talking about in the original post.

Derek Smart
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Seth,

Please don't assume that devs only rely on what those clueless dweebs in the media report. The fact is that given how the industry is one big pile of companies playing musical chairs with the talent, everyone knows everyone pretty much.

And in a society where you have a distinction between castes and classes, it is not unheard of that suits will flock with suits and devs will flock with devs. So just because Mark et al don't descend from the clouds to mingle with the nerflings, doesn't mean squat. And if there is an asshole in a suit lurking around, it WILL get out. And if there is a caste of asshole suits, well then, that's where all of this comes from.

To think that all the crap that Zynga is taking comes from outside is the sort of nonsense that gets people fired. All the time.

Indie teams traditionally tend to fare better in their own cluster and environment. These companies buy up these devs, then FAIL to provide an environment that is suited for the various types of people they are employing. It's like bring a bear to a chicken farm and expecting him to play nice. Not gonna happen.

If anyone at Zynga actually cared about Shay could contribute, they would have taken a different stance (as that which you pointed out). But the fact is, they figured that he wasn't part of the "core" and thus not their target. So he just became a casualty of strong arm bullshit. Funny thing is, that sort of culture and mentality is EXACTLY how Zynga ended up with this bad rap from within and those who have already departed. Short term gains for long term aggravation. Had Shay grudgingly signed for whatever reason, now you end with a disgruntled employee who is just there to pull a paycheck. And THATS the guy who ends up leaking shit to the media, bad mouthing your company on exit etc.

Anyway, none of this matters now as I fully expect Zynga to collapse within the next five years.

Andrew Pellerano
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I'm an indie designer that was acquired by Zynga back in 2009 and I'm still here and happy as a clam. The company is run like a meritocracy. If you take a leadership role and deliver results you will be given more and better opportunities. This is fact across all disciplines.

Since we're in the infant years of a new industry (games as services) there is plenty of innovation happening. I haven't even been here for 3 years and I've had to tackle a lot of interesting design problems that I know no one else in the world has thought about. In that same span of time I've gotten concrete(!) feedback on all my designs from user statistics.

It's wrong to claim that indies can't mesh here. I would claim the exact opposite - this is an amazing place for an indie spirit to thrive. New frontier, no well-drawn boundaries, and a huge audience to impact.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"I would like to implore many people in this thread to re-consider your stance on Zynga though. It's quite demoralizing to not be able to go onto any industry site and never see your employer or products in a positive light, usually based on assumptions or hearsay. It isn't our policy to beat up employees for their fun ideas and take them without money or credit, despite what you may have heard. None of our designers are clamoring to make bad or exploitative games, or 'clone' other games. "

I'm sorry to hear that Seth, even as I contribute to it. Though I won't stop as long as I see Zynga as an exemplar of all that is wrong with the game industry and capitalism, I hope you take my apology and sympathy sincerely. I am wondering though what your thoughts are on some of the Zynga controversies - I'll just repaste some links I pasted earlier.

Anything to get mooney: http://vimeo.com/3738428. "I knew that i wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues, right, fucking, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I dont know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs*" - Pincus

Spam: http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecos
ystem-of-hell/.
Cloning: http://www.edge-online.com/features/how-zynga-cloned-its-way-succ
ess.
Mafia-style protection racket: http://www.gamesbrief.com/2012/01/zyngas-cloning-protection-racke
t/.
Hypocricy: http://www.betabeat.com/2011/06/17/zynga-sues-vostu-for-copying-i
ts-rip-offs/.
Dishonesty: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-57322150-17/zynga-to-employees-
give-back-our-stock-or-youll-be-fired/.

I am interested in your thoughts on these controversies, if they are taken out of context or blown out of proportion. Or spot on. It seems incredibly unlikely that Zynga is spotless considering the number of news stories that break about them that make EA and Activision look like charities. Compare them to another company with skyrocketing success: Rovio. Why do I never hear controversies about Rovio? Anyway, I think it unlikely that Zynga's dark side is misunderstood, but if it is exaggerated it would certainly be appreciated to get an insider's perspective on the matter :). And if it is as bad as it seems, I hope you can find a way out even if you are happy, because you seem like a good person and I don't want good people becoming corrupt or helping evil entities. I lost my job (which I probably would have lost anyway as the studio was severely gutted, but still) standing up against bullshit that was a small fraction of the evil present in Zynga at another company. I couldn't sleep at night knowing that I was hurting my health and sanity and supporting similar damage to coworkers under bullshit management demands, scapegoating, and information hiding. Until more people are willing to do this, the paradigm won't change -- those in power will remain those in power, those that see the evil of their ways won't be able to stop them even from the inside because we can be replaced or our company acquired or our games stolen.

If it helps, think of it like this -- because this is how it is. Do not be grateful for your job. You were not given your job by anyone. Your job was taken from you before you even got to it and morphed into a capitalist system that funnels power from the worker to the rich. Jobs are not created; they are done. The job was always there, where there is a need and talent -- it was not created, it was claimed. This goes for all of you that don't own your own company.

Without Zynga and the likes, you wouldn't be jobless - you would be co-owning your own company with the talent that Zynga lured, making far more than you have now AND having more freedom and self-respect AND likely contributing more to the world (assuming you aren't as evil as Pincus). But you can't do that in an environment ruled by elite conglomerations that write laws through a puppet congress and buy you out (integrating you into their borg-like structure) or put you out of business.

Here is their business plan.

Step 1: Stake out sections of the market like territory and claim the jobs that the market needs.
Step 2: Divvy out small slices of the pie to the workers who can't compete with you and thus must work for you, far smaller slices than they would be if said workers banded together and started their own company.
Step 3: Use your money to get farther ahead. Buy up all competition, buy out politicians, spend and indoctrinate. Just because we don't have tyrants in the western world doesn't mean the innate desires of humans to rule other humans have disappeared - they have merely taken a different form, the form of the CEO, his kingdom now an amorphous entity not locked by territory called a "corporation", controlling more minds than any dictator in history could have dreamed of.

We are all contributing to this system, and we need to stop it.

Seth Allison
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@Jeremy Crenshaw - I'm doing my absolute best to stick to the facts because I don't want to get into speculation or events I wasn't here for. The Zynga that is reported on (especially from pre-2010) does not bear resemblance to what I see today (and the culture keeps getting better by the day). More recent stuff I would just say is misrepresented or exaggerated, though I can only speak to my experience.

I think the focus on Zynga is two-pronged: it's a pushback against non-traditional 'gamers' entering the gaming sphere, and the emergence of free-to-play as a business model. Zynga is the only major company in both the uber-casual markets AND is exclusively F2P, and thus draws ire from critics of either. Like any snowball effect, when you get two people to agree on something, you can probably find a third who will agree just to be in the crowd.

For me personally, I play nearly exclusively F2P games (besides Zynga games: League of Legends, World of Tanks, Hero Academy, etc etc) so I am clearly morally okay with microtransactions or other aspects of F2P design that ruffles feathers. I grew up in a board game family so having to view my mother or grandmother as a gamer doesn't repulse me or offend my tastes. That seems to be the main grievances for other gamers who do not like Zynga. I wish I could convince them all, but I only have so many Gamasutra posts ;)

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I definitely don't have gamer-rage against Zynga, as I enjoy many Wii games and Angry Birds. I have no moral qualms with F2P. But even if Zynga became a saint today (which would be great), they still got there by doing dirty deeds which others might emulate. It sets a bad example. I don't have much fiath they can change their ways now that they have gone public and the masses are putting pressure on them to perform. It's never enough, more money is always needed nowadays, and that money comes from a finite market that other, more ethical companies (that did not spam or trick users into installing widgets that can't easily be uninstalled or copy other games) need just to survive.

Thanks for your response! I hope Zynga can stop some of its more sinister habits; perhaps employees like you are starting to turn it around.

Adam Saltsman
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Hey Seth! I am curious what your role as designer was on Scramble With Friends (just Scramble, before the NewToy acquisition). We turned down an offer from Zynga to buy our game Wurdle (a finger-dragging word find game inspired by Boggle) in late 2008, and were definitely surprised when Scramble was first released just a little while later, using our exact control scheme!

Do you mind me asking if you worked on the original Scramble?

Adam Saltsman
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Also if you have time to elaborate on this paragraph I would love to hear more:

"I think the focus on Zynga is two-pronged: it's a pushback against non-traditional 'gamers' entering the gaming sphere, and the emergence of free-to-play as a business model. Zynga is the only major company in both the uber-casual markets AND is exclusively F2P, and thus draws ire from critics of either. Like any snowball effect, when you get two people to agree on something, you can probably find a third who will agree just to be in the crowd."

As a counter-example I would suggest perhaps the folks from Nimblebit? I think I would be safe in assuming they would be categorized as critics of Zynga, but they are also very active in the uber-casual market and make F2P games, so presumably they are not critical of Zynga on either of those axes. Is there a third prong? Is Nimblebit just trying to be "in the crowd"?

Jeremie Sinic
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@Seth Allison:
I worked in some big company in the past, and I wouldn't be surprised that designers are treated well at Zynga while developers and staff at other positions might be treated less fairly. It's just a supposition of course.

I saw cases where within the same team graphic designers and game designers were cherished by the hierarchy while developers were treated mostly with contempt, simply because the hierarchy didn't understand or try to understand programmers' constraints.
In the end, in the exact same team, you have people totally happy with their experience while others will want to flee on the first occasion.

Jacob Germany
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@Seth Intentionally or not, you seem to be woefully disingenuous in reframing the "attacks" on Zynga. They are not all internet rumors, nor are the rumors really the basis for much of the distaste I see towards your employer.

Furthermore, I have never seen anyone speaking against Zynga who is offended or repulsed by mothers and grandmothers playing games. Such a characterization is honestly pretty offensive, as this reframes Zynga critics as bigots and elitists, rather than members of the same industry who are offended and repulsed by behaviors such as the (very recent) development of a game that could only fairly be called a reskinned clone (Dream Heights) of a game developed by a company Zynga attempted to absorb, but were rejected. Pretty solid evidence, not rumor based, pretty damning, and certainly not offense at "Free to play" and "casual" markets. Rather, offense at business tactics that, as the author of the original article stated, have a detrimental effect upon this entire industry, and ultimately Zynga along with it.

Luis Blondet
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Ok, so all those games that Zynga cloned from independent, small developers are just a figment of our collective imaginations?

Can you please state an original and creative title Zynga is working on?

Ricardo Hernandez
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@Andrew - I would like to know what the claim that the place runs like a meritocracy has to do anything with the points raised about Zynga. I am sure many regimes and dictatorships in the world are also run as meritocracies where leadership and delivering results is rewarded across many disciplines.

It's really irrelevant true or not.

Chris MacDonald
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@Luis Blondet: As if Zynga was the only one copying. Couldn't we say that even Nimblebit copied Simtower or Yoot Tower? Nimblebit couldn't even think of a better name that didn't involve the word "tower". As with all things in life, truly innovative ideas are very few and far between.

Eric Boosman
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Bravo, Shay. Great decision. Strong core values and integrity are important to long term health, both of an individual, as well as a company. It's the foundation of our studio, Dark Tonic Games, and it's great to see others sharing this viewpoint.

Aaron McCormick
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great article.

Harlan Sumgui
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Great article, kudos. I'd like to mention that Zynga in it's early days actively courted scam advertisers, and Facebook didn't care. The most common scam was to get people to give up their cell numbers, and send them unasked for messages on a daily basis, usually changing $1.95 and up. So at the end of the month there were lots and lots of people with big cell phone charges that were either unreversable, or very hard to reverse (depending on your carrier). Evil indeed.

Mark Venturelli
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Congratulations on being awesome! Stay classy!

Alan Youngblood
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I'll echo the applause for what you are doing for personal career decisions and online rhetoric Shay. Both are quite wonderful and very beneficial in the culture in which we find ourselves.

Also I suggest looking into Dan Pink's "Drive," particularly the part about profit-motivated companies vs purpose-motivated companies. To summarize: profit-motivated companies are built on dated and inaccurate assumptions about human behavior. They cause harm to many people's well being as a result. On the flip-side, purpose-motivated companies increase the productivity and long term profitability by not worrying so much about either. Instead they focus on their workers' intrinsic desires to help fellow humans in some way (be it an acknowledged necessity like food/water/shelter or something that beneficial but yet not acknowledged as a necessity like games).

John Ingato
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I started the article off thinking "This guy is an absolute idiot" and ended it thinking "This guy has some integrity"

The question is, if he created a successful game next year and Zynga offered him $200M for Deep Plaid Games, would he sell? I would bet he would, which would contradict everything he stated in his article. After all, who could turn down that kind of $$.

Javier San Juan
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There are still some people in the world who would.

Of course, if you are just making games to make a living you would HAVE to sell your company. But if your work is truly important to you, if you want to create something meaningful that lasts, you WILL keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

Carlo Delallana
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Rovio turned down Zynga

Jacob Germany
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His entire article is about how he turned down a stable job to become jobless for the sake of a game that earns him almost nothing. Kinda contradicts some wild assumption that he would sell a profitable, popular theoretical company for money.

Herbert Fowler
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I applaud you, Sir.

Javier San Juan
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Congratulations, Shay! I'm glad to see some people like you are still out there.
Just purchased your game to show a little bit of support.

Johnny LaVie
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"When an entity exists in an ecosystem, and acts within that ecosystem in a way that is short-sighted, behaving in a way that is actively destructive to the healthy functioning of that ecosystem and the other entities in it (including, in the long term, themselves) -- yes, I believe that that is evil"

IMO, yeah, principles are nice and all but it's not like you were going to dropkick puppies if you joined that company for a year. You made one personal game. You just started out the gate! How many more games could you make that were "personal" if you had the funds for your own company? I consider missing this opportunity actively self-destructive and a little short-sighted.

ANYONE can take "difficult" things for a year if you're thinking long term. You make the cash, and then you fund the company that you want to build. People do this all the time. They have a job that's not the most fulfilling gig from washing toilets to whatever, but they make it work then they build out to do what they love.

I don't know what the terms were with the company but if they are really generous (like not having to work for a year or two with all the money made) I think it was a pretty dumb thing to do..but of course that's just my opinion.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Problem is that during that year you're helping your competitor. I mean, yeah, you work for them, but if you're going indie at some point, they are your future competitor. I don't think it's quite as cut as dry as what you said, but yeah, it can work and has worked for many people.

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Thomas Red-Cloud
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Congrats to you Shay. I too have said.... "No thanks" to Zynga and to E.A. I have decided to make games on my own.. with a company attached to it. I am proud to say... I currently working for a non-game company... and lovin it. Game Developers need to get educated and just say "NO" to game companies that are little more than pirate ships. Game Developers have rights to their intellectual properties.. and once the industry gets a harsh taste of medicine of top developers constantly turning them down, they will eventually need to start coughing up better contracts that aren't draconian in practice and doesn't treat developers as a cog in the wheel. Without us, there is no game.. and don't count on designers to do it for you.. The community needs to wake up and unite.

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Marc Schaerer
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I love this and fully agree on the points :)
thanks for the article

Luiz Monclar
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Congratulations, man.

Evin Major
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I wish you the best of luck, that's a tough decision and I hope you find something that fits your values and vision more. You gotta do what you think is best for you. However, I have a quick question.

Who really creates value, consumers or developers?

If I think about the company as an entity, then collectivily the developers make a majority of the content, so is that the value he's talking about? However, it's not valuable until a consumer deems it valuable/willing to pay for it. So wether consumers know what they want or don't know exactly what they want at the end of the day they create value...right?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Developers, of course :). Consumers don't create value, they consume value. Of course most consumers are developers of value in other fields; that's what keeps the world running.

Malachi Griffie
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Zynga has a standard prior invention form that would have exempted Connectrode and kept Seth in complete control of it.

I'm not sure why everyone is giving Seth so many accolades here. He stated that concern over ownership of his game was the sole reason that he decided not to join to Zynga.

So basically, everyone is applauding him because he made a mistake when reading the legal documents.

Thomas Red-Cloud
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Malachi, obviously you either work for Zynga or had a taste of the corporate punch. Just because you specify your inventions in a standard prior invention form, it does NOT safe guard you from getting the wrath of corporate lawyers swarming in on you to rationalize that it is not yours, let alone that you don't have the paper work to say that it is yours... that is a rather expensive endeavor unless you have a couple of 10k-100k stashed in the closet somewhere. Seth did NOT make a mistake, he made a decision not work for a company that requires mandatory knee pads and k-y as part of the work day.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"Zynga has a standard prior invention form that would have exempted Connectrode and kept Seth in complete control of it."

I corrected you earlier, but since you are posting again (and being snarky), I feel compelled to do so again.

The standard prior invention form is still part of the bidirectional contract which Zynga has to agree to. Putting his game on there only guarantees that he gets to keep it if Zynga agrees. Otherwise they can say no and threaten to take his job from him - his job which he already had long before Zynga absorbed his company. It's the same way you don't get to just put twenty billion dollars as your salary and Zynga has to pay - contracts require mutual agreement.

"I'm not sure why everyone is giving Seth so many accolades here. He stated that concern over ownership of his game was the sole reason that he decided not to join to Zynga.

So basically, everyone is applauding him because he made a mistake when reading the legal documents."

No. No no no no no. We are applauding him because he picked long term integrity over short term profits. Because if people don't do this then corporations like Zynga will continue to suck up their competitors and conglomerate into unstoppable entities. Because companies owning things you do outside the company hours with your own equipment should not be the default stance, and should not even be considered.

Speaking of making mistakes while reading, did you miss this?


"When that 11 p.m. call came, the decision I'd feared was exactly the one I was being forced to make: Connectrode or a job with Zynga. I got off the phone and called my attorney. By 1 a.m. we'd drafted a very reasonable addendum to clarify my points.

...

Nine hours later, I was told that the addendum had been completely rejected -- there was no compromise here, and no getting around making this decision."

Malachi Griffie
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@Thomas

What are you going on about? Yes, a prior invention form does safeguard your works, that is the purpose of that document. I don't know the depths of the legalese, but when we were purchased I spoke with a friend (who is a lawyer in this field, and whose knowledge and skill I trust) and he said my games and open-source code libraries would be safe if I listed them. It is up to the company to challenge anything or ask for more information, if they don't, then you're in the clear. And yes, I work for Zynga, my company was purchased almost a year ago; that doesn't affect the substance of my argument but it does mean my complaints about Zynga are grounded in reality instead of hyperbole.

@Jeffrey

You didn't "correct" me earlier, you pointed out an incredibly unlikely potential. That would be like you saying "DoubleFine made $3 million from Kickstarter" and I responded that you were incorrect because all the backers could do a chargeback on their credit cards. Technically correct. But c'mon, really?

"No. No no no no no. We are applauding him because he picked long term integrity over short term profits."

According to his article, he only turned down the offer because he was under the (incorrect) impression that Zynga would have control over his game.

Albert T
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@Malachi Are you an insider to this?
How did you know that Shay made a mistake reading the legal documents?
How did you know that Zynga would have exempted Connectrode?
From Shay's own article, he obviously stated that Zynga *rejected* it.

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Jacob Germany
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According to the article, he turned down the offer because he hesitated long enough to have realized that their ideals were not his ideals. He specifically states how he had heard that the Zynga deal occurred mere hours before a late-night hurried exchange of "What's wrong with you? Why aren't you doing this?". Are you truly saying that in a few hours and severe social pressure of losing your job, you would be certain of all relevant factors, and could form them into a coherent decision without any doubt? That you wouldn't need to sleep on it, and think about it?

I know many in that situation would act similarly to the author, by fretting over their job security, feeling the pressure to follow what all of his peers thought was "common sense", and realizing that he had this small, unprofitable venture that was important to him.

And I keep reading that Zynga has form for prior inventions, yet I clearly read in the original article that Zynga flat out rejected the document he had drawn up clarifying his ownership of his work. If it's such a "common practice", why did they reject his proposal? Why not point out that it was rejected not because it was unacceptable, but that it was redundant? It seems rather clear that Zynga simply would not accept the author retaining control over his game, prior inventions form or no.

Malachi Griffie
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@Albert

"How did you know that Shay made a mistake reading the legal documents?"

Because Zynga has bought like a two dozen companies in the past couple years and all the contract forms are standard. So unless this was some very strange deal (and I obviously highly highly doubt that or I would have added caveats to my statements) a prior invention form is included for every employee.

"How did you know that Zynga would have exempted Connectrode?"

Because that is the purpose of the prior invention form. Zynga doesn't give a shit about anything that doesn't make them massive $$$. They exempted my games and open-source code libraries. I've never heard stories about any employees that have had IP rejected from a prior invention or taken from them by Zynga.

"From Shay's own article, he obviously stated that Zynga *rejected* it."

They rejected his *addendum* which was ridiculous to propose anyway (though I suppose the act of proposing it has some psychological value). I'm willing to bet no one even read the addendum, it was rejected out of hand. In hundred million-dollar business deals, the slightest change requires both parties to re-agree to the dozens of contracts. Trust me, I went through this. There is NO WAY a single employee would ever be allowed a special addendum to their contract, it has nothing to do with that person's circumstances and everything to do with all the legal crap surrounding these types of deals.

Malachi Griffie
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@Joshua

How am I being indignant? At whom am I pointing fingers?

Some of the information here is not based in fact; correcting that information or providing additional context around it is not remotely indignant.

If you look up the definition of the word "indignant", you'll find many comments here that fit that definition (rightly or not) but mine wouldn't be in the list.

Malachi Griffie
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@Jacob

"According to the article, he turned down the offer because he hesitated long enough to have realized that their ideals were not his ideals."

I'm not trying to put words in Seth's mouth or presume what he was truly feeling -- but I don't think it presumptuous of me to assume that the article he wrote is an accurate representation of his thoughts.

And according to the article, he only had that hesitation because he was uncertain about the IP rights of his game.

Malachi Griffie
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@Jacob (sorry, just realized I didn't address all your points)

"Are you truly saying that in a few hours and severe social pressure of losing your job, you would be certain of all relevant factors, and could form them into a coherent decision without any doubt? That you wouldn't need to sleep on it, and think about it?"

No, I never said or implied that. That was super shitty that OMGPOP didn't give him (or presumably other employees) any time to properly consider the situation and make an informed decision.

That said, I also never questioned or belittled Seth's decision -- I merely pointed out that his worries of losing his game were misplaced and, since according to his article that was the crux of his decision, people are celebrating a decision that was made on incorrect information and Seth very likely would have joined Zynga had there been no confusion of the facts.

Jacob Germany
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My point was that the point I got from the article, largely because Shay specifically states it as so and I only have his word to go on, is that in the middle of the night, the IP rights of his game was the critical factor in his hesitation vs. immediate follow-through. However, his ultimate decision was based upon his ideals versus Zynga's ideals.

Yes, if they had quickly agreed with him, he might now be working there. And he might also have changed his mind before signing. Or realized after working there a few days that his ideals didn't match theirs, the same "Wait, what am I doing?" realization he had in the described story because Zynga turned down his offer.

We obviously don't know what would've happened if it had gone differently, but his decision is still highly laudable. He chose his personal, low-profit creation and his ideals (no matter which came first) over a stable job.

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Justin Blake
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Good for you. You probably made the right choice, if you worked for Zynga they would have probably paid you in shares then forced you to surrender them without compensation.

Jacob Germany
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You should be proud of choosing your work, however unprofitable, and your principles, however similarly unprofitable, over job security.

Hope it works out for you.

Javier Arevalo
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https://twitter.com/#!/tfadp/status/185901564131688448

Dan Porter (OMGPOP's CEO): "What's so interesting about success is the number of failures who try to ride on your back. Shay Pierce is just one of many..."

:(

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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It doesn't take much character to be CEO anymore huh? :(

Andy Kim
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Dan Porter got mad after he read this article and especially all the supportive comments ;)

Morten Formo
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Good Job! I appreciated reading this article. This is how it's supposed to be done!

Ernest Adams
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I don't think Mr. Pierce gains much by justifying himself in this way. His integrity is commendable, but he would have had just as much integrity if he had done it without airing his reasoning in public.

Dave Mark
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I think what he gains is actually protection from the torch and pitchfork brigade that is free to say anything they want about him (and have done so). As much as we are annoyed by the trend of "first!" on the internet, there is some psychological backing to it.

Thorben Novais Silva Jensen
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shay. Actually I read your article as a game plot for your next game Disconnectrode (In a near future the game itself threatens to leave you for a bigger, maybe evil, corporate puzzle.).

Danny Burbol
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I've worked in the game industry for 12 years.
I've worked at Zynga for 3 and a half years now.
I love this job and my coworkers more than any other job I've had!
If you want to know what it's really like working at Zynga, I made a blog post about my typical day at Zynga:
http://www.dannyburbol.com/2012/04/dannys-typical-day-at-zynga/

#iheartzynga
~Danny

Kenny Jacobs
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I find it funny that the comments are disabled on your blog post and not this one.

Anyway, Zynga has always been a complete parallel to Electronic Arts in my eyes.

I can't possible find a reason not to completely respect you as a human being Shay. I'm sure your wife is very happy with who you are. I'm sorry you had to go through that decision. Having just changed jobs myself, I'm sure you also felt loss when you were suddenly disconnected with the people you were used to doing business with.

Best of wishes to you and your family! *wink nudge*

Ashkan Saeedi Mazdeh
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Proud of being a game dev after reading this.

Julious Cious Igmen
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Very well said! I'm really inspired by this, especially as I am starting my way in game development. I can say you've made the best decision. I would have done the same.

David Finlay
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Great article!


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