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Zynga photo

Zynga is now gamifying ads with branded levels

FarmVille, sponsored by delicious Clorox
Oct 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Zynga, the company that brought you FarmVille and drove Draw Something into the ground, has found a new way to force advertisements into its cancerous products: sponsored levels. The evil corporate Mary Poppins' new busi...
Zynga photo

Don Mattrick stays winning, to be replaced at Zynga

Out with the old and in with the old
Apr 08
// Robert Summa
After not even two years into his tenure at Zynga, it appears Don Mattrick is being replaced as CEO. According to the Wall Street Journal, Mattrick did such a great job, that the people of Zynga decided he needed a break and ...
BaZynga! photo

Zynga has lost half of its active users in the last year

And $61 million this first quarter (almost 69, nice)
Apr 25
// Steven Hansen
The bad news is that I'm sure they all moved on to play god damn Candy Crush. For now. Until some other bright casino game or reality show about a bad 90's rapper living in an Amish community wrangles their attention so they ...
Zynga is not cool photo
Zynga is not cool

Zynga buys NaturalMotion for $527M, cuts workforce 15%

Jan 31
// Steven Hansen
Zynga has made its first big move under new CEO and former Microsoft head Don Mattrick, acquiring CSR Racing developer NaturalMotion for $527 million. The UK and US-based developer did well for itself with the mobile hit CSR ...

Zyngattrick photo

Don Mattrick to turn Zynga around with business clichs

Shift some paradigms, think outside the box
Jul 26
// Steven Hansen
Former Microsoft figurehead and presumed fall guy Don Mattrick is now the CEO of Zynga, the company known for making millions off the Facebook boom and games like Farmville. Of course, the casual powerhouse hasn't been faring...
Zynga photo

Don Mattrick negotiated to buy Zynga while at Microsoft

Reportedly, that is
Jul 08
// Jordan Devore
Today is Don Mattrick's first full day at Zynga as the company's new CEO. Wow, yeah, that's still weird to say. Speaking of the former president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, here's a curious tidbit: acco...
Zynga photo

Zynga error lets stranger do hilarious customer support

In all fairness, he tried to warn them
Jul 05
// Brett Makedonski
Zynga's been a hot topic in the news lately, but this gaffe is quite a bit more lighthearted than the Mattrick saga. It's also pretty embarrassing. As reported by Kotaku, Zynga accidentally put a random person in charge of cu...

GTA V, 400 Days of Summer, & Don Mattrickville

The Destructoid Show eats a whole cake by itself
Jul 02
// Max Scoville
Oh hey! Tara's back from Singapore! Let's talk about video games! Don Mattrick has left Microsoft to work for Zynga, Rockstar answers some Grand Theft Auto V questions, and The Walking Dead gets its interim DLC episode 400 Days in the next week, depending on your platform. Plus, Klei Entertainment's new game, Incognita is tactical turn-based stealth, and Proteus is coming to PS3/Vita.
Xbox boss goes Zynga photo
[Update: It's official. Zynga has confirmed that Mattrick will join the company as CEO and member of the board of directors on July 8, 2013. "I joined Zynga because I believe that [founder Mark Pincus'] pioneering vision...

Zynga photo

Zynga shutting down Draw Something developer OMGPOP

More layoff news
Jun 04
// Jordan Devore
It came out this week that social gaming giant Zynga had laid off 520 employees (approximately 18 percent of its global workforce), which ended up meaning full office closures in some cases. Joining the shutdowns in New York,...
Zynga photo

Major layoffs happening at Zynga

Approximately 18 percent of staff cut
Jun 03
// Abel Girmay
Sad news been handed down to many employees of the massive social game developer Zynga, as the company is reportedly cutting loose 520 staff members. That's around 18 percent of the company workforce. As part of the cuts, the...
Draw Something 2 photo
Draw Something 2

Zynga launches Draw Something 2

Try again?
Apr 25
// Dale North
Here's another excuse to draw dick pictures on your mobile device and send them to your friends. It's Draw Something 2, the follow-up to the Pictonary-like social game that captured our imaginations for exactly 1.5 weeks last...
Zynga photo

Impressions: Zynga's mobile card game War of the Fallen

Simple and accessible, Zynga may be winning yet
Apr 15
// Caitlin Cooke
Zynga has just released their latest social game endeavor War of the Fallen for iOS, with Android soon to follow. This new card battle game steps up to the plate with hopes of introducing casual game players to the world of c...
Draw Something photo
Draw Something

Draw Something television game show is really happening

Coming to UK's Channel 4
Apr 11
// Dale North
Remember when we told you how Zynga was working on turning their popular drawing mobile game into a television game show? That's actually happening now, but not for CBS as we originally heard. Word is that they've decided not...
Draw Something 2 photo
Draw Something 2

Ryan Seacrest got to announce Draw Something 2

Is this real life?
Mar 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Draw Something 2 is officially happening. How do we know this? Because Ryan Seacrest Tweeted the news. What. OMGPOP CEO and Zynga Vice President Dan Porter later confirmed that Draw Something 2 is indeed coming soon and will ...

Zynga: Tablets are becoming the ultimate game platform

Farmville dev praises your iPads and your Samsung Notethinkers
Mar 18
// Jim Sterling
Console fans will protest, PC fans will bellow in outrage, but Farmville developer Zynga believes tablet devices are on track to become the ultimate platform for gaming experiences. According to games president Steve Chi...
Zynga silliness photo
Zynga silliness

Zynga: Copying games is no big deal, don't worry about it

Who has time to be creative when you are providing a "service"?
Mar 12
// Tony Ponce
"Zynga is often accused of copying games, which is mostly true." Those were the words spoken by Dan Porter, General Manager of Zynga New York. It's no secret to anyone with the capacity for rational thought that the social ga...
The Ville photo
The Ville

EA and Zynga have settled over The Ville lawsuit

It's over
Feb 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Electronic Arts and Zynga lawsuits against one another have both been dismissed. The two companies reached a settlement outside of court, and the specifics of the deal haven't been disclosed. Both companies issued a state...
FarmVille  photo

Um, what? Brett Ratner is making a FarmVille cartoon

From the director of such hits as X-Men: The Last Stand and Rush Hour!
Feb 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Listen to the bear. Brett Ratner Boards ‘FarmVille’ Animated Series [Deadline]

Zynga cuts costs by shutting down 11 games

Some would call it karma
Dec 31
// Chris Carter
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has just announced that 11 games will be either axed entirely, or stop accepting newcomers to cut costs. It seems as if assets will be funneled into their more popular ventures, and new ones as well. Yep...

A free version of Horn is now up on the App Store

Have an Unreal Engine 3 appetizer on the house
Dec 11
// Jordan Devore
Phosphor Games Studio and Zynga have put out a "free" version of Horn, the fairly ambitious action-adventure game for mobile devices. That can be downloaded from the App Store right now, offering the Prologue from the main ca...

The DTOID Show: XCOM DLC, Sim City, Zynga & Warfighter

Plus: How to become a wizard
Oct 24
// Max Scoville
Today on The Destructoid Show, we discuss XCOM: Enemy Unknown's upcoming Slingshot DLC, Sim City's momentary delay, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter's less-than-thrilling reception, and crappy ol' Zynga doing a bunch of crappy stuff. Again.
Big layoffs at Zynga photo
Boston studio shut down, others face closure
There were a number of layoffs at Zynga today, as you might have heard from employees who were affected and quickly spread the word. An internal note from CEO Mark Pincus confirms much of what's been said about the significan...

We have a file on you: The tools & tricks of social games

Oct 13 // Allistair Pinsof used to be some site that you bought books at but then analytics happened. In the late 1990s, Brian Lent helped lead the Information Technology team that would create Amazon's recommendation system. The system that would rewrite how the expanding online store functioned. Instead of recommending random items for sale, stores now gain data from users' searches, purchases, behavior, and any other information available to analytical software. Recommendations covered 14 percent of Amazon's revenue when Lent still worked there; now, it's as high as 40 percent of the company's earnings. The rest of the Internet would follow and, now, so are videogames. Videogame developers and publishers are now reaching out to analysts like Lent, who currently works for Medio Systems. It is one of many third-party companies that offer analytical software which does the heavy number crunching for developers. Right now, Lent is giving a speech at GDC Online, a gathering of social and mobile game developers in Austin, Texas. His audience is a group of grey-haired businessmen curious to get some of this Facebook cash they have heard so much about through the success stories of Zynga, PopCap, and Chillingo. He is now covering stage three of how to make a successful social game: monetization. "This stage is really about optimizing the next best offer," Lent says. "If you have another thing to show the user, what is the best thing (analytically-speaking) they are most likely to purchase next?" "Metrics" is a word commonly used among social game developers that didn't exist in the industry until analysts like Lent arrived. You hear people say it a lot at a trade show like GDC Online. Sometimes in a knowing way, and sometimes with the excited gleam of dollar signs lighting up the eyes. In 2009, social games made $4 billion a year. According to Lent's research, the market will reach $30 billion in yearly revenue with downloads rising to 21.7 billion -- over five times what they were three years ago. The market is growing and it's attracting developers like Zynga that are well-versed in the visual design and analytical tricks that have made successful websites tick. Now, they are applying the same tactics to videogames. Once users are acquired, a social game must engage them. Since not all social games are fun enough to play on their own merit, developers hook players with a carrot on a stick. Analytical tools tell designers when an offer should be made to what player. For example, a whale may be planning to go back to reality and abandon their home in DragonVale. This is when a developers must "figure out how to cross-promote and move people." "Collect all the data you can!" exclaims Lent. "Location, time of day, offers shown that they didn’t respond to, offers shown that they did respond to, friends they invited into game ... all that data is extremely, extremely valuable. No matter how you work, make sure you are collecting all the data you can. That data is a gold mine." Once a user is placed into a "clustomer" (a cluster of customers -- yes, they really do use this term), analytical tools evaluate what should be offered and how the offer should be presented. For example, the software knows Melissa is a whale because the data tells the system that whales are likely to use iPhones, reach level 12 in the game, live in Germany, and purchase the golden sword. All of these traits fit Melissa, so she must be a whale. "Have your product guys look into the purchase path for the golden sword, since that unlocks the game experience and leads them to buy more things," Lent says. This analytical software has increased developers revenue by five times, according to Lent. Not only does the software tell developers the nature of a user, it can even decide whether something should be promoted as "best price," "hot price," "NEW!" or "50% off" even though these are the same exact offer. However, some aspects of targeting social players will always be in the designers' hands. Emmanuel Valdez has nearly twenty years of experience in designing videogames, and he comes to GDC Online to discuss how visual design can help drive sales in social games. Since most social games are free-to-play, they depend on real-money transactions in a marketplace. Depending on the game, these marketplace items may alter the way a player's avatar looks or how the game is played, often making it easier on the player. Then, the worst offender: there are energy systems that lock a person out from playing the game until they are let back in via a timer -- unless they pay up. "It's not the art; it's not the budget; it's the design that makes great games," states Valdez. Valdez pulls many time-tested design principles from across time and cultures and applies them to games. For example, colors can reinforce what a person should look at. Game designers often color a group of icons to imply they are of a similar nature, but Valdez presents an example where a social game greys out all buttons except the marketplace. This button, and only this button, is glorious, bright, and shiny. How can you not click on it? Why would anyone resist? "Design for free-to-play games changes how we see design because they are all about getting people to spend money, most of the time," continues Valdez. Have you ever noticed that many social games apply baby face features to game characters? They often have big round eyes, small noses, and heads larger than the rest of their bodies. Valdez says developer's do this because it makes players more sympathetic. Research shows that they are more likely to pay to level them up. Developers want you to fall in love with their characters and then pay for that love. Placement is another key design aspect of social games. Leading players' eyes to the marketplace and the most expensive items is a primary goal for many developers and it's a task that has to be dealt with subtlety. Valdez says that placing the most expensive items first in a store will make them more likely to be sold, since these items will linger in the mind of players after exiting. Another principle is the Gutenberg Diagram which shows that player's eyes are drawn from the top-left to the bottom-right of the screen, so of course you are going to place your store icon there! "A lot of people from Zynga come from the web and that industry has been doing this a lot longer than we have. These principle are second nature to them," Valdez explains. "That's where we need to get." But where is this place and what kind of place will it be? One where each user is studied by systems, manipulated by artists, and led with a carrot on a stick? Many European countries, such as England and Germany, forbid the kind of data collection these analysts provide for a good reason. That reason is that customers should be served a quality product, not serving developers' research and data mining. Nevertheless, companies like Medio Systems work within a loophole that strips individuals' data and places it into a group ("clustomers"). No one is that unique, after all. This keeps personal data one step removed and the data mining within legal bounds. Even great game developers analyze test groups, use design principles to guide players, and give players incentive to keep playing. The difference is that developers like Activision Blizzard make a game first and tune it around these tools and tricks, not the other way around. The more I learn about how social games are made and the people that work on them, the more I am fascinated by this new industry and the more I want to stay the hell away from it as a gamer. I'm not a whale. If Zynga has a file on me, I kindly ask for it back.
Social games datamining? photo
This is what social game developers say about you, behind your back
Meet Melissa. She's a forty-year-old mom who has recently become hooked on DragonVale, a free-to-play iOS game. She is what social game analysts call a whale. No, this isn't a comment on her physical stature or deep, raspy...


Zynga apes Pokemon with suspiciously similar Montopia

Gotta copy 'em all!
Aug 30
// Jim Sterling
Oh Zynga, will you ever learn? Despite being embroiled in a lawsuit against fellow evildoer Electronic Arts, those wacky rouges at Zynga are hard at work with another "inspired" game -- Montopia.  Montopia casts you in ...

Jimquisition: EA vs. Zynga - The Lesser of Two Evils

Aug 27
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts and Zynga duking it out is one of the biggest supervillain slap-fights in history. Both companies are reviled by gamers the world over, but as is our nature, we can't just sit back and watch the carnage. Peop...

EA vs. Zynga: EA claims it's a game industry defender!

Aug 21
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts' delusions of grandeur have reached new heights this week, as the company continues to milk its lawsuit against Zynga for cheap applause and gamer cred. Its latest claim? The lawsuit positions Electronic Arts ...

EA vs. Zynga: EA thanks gamers for support

Aug 07
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts couldn't have asked for a better enemy in Zynga. The social game kingpin is not only in financial trouble, it's also one of the most despised companies in the industry. EA must realize this, and has started su...

EA vs. Zynga: Zynga hits back, says EA is a copycat too

Aug 06
// Jim Sterling
The supervillain slapfight of the century was initiated on Friday, with EA announcing that it would take Zynga to court for copying The Sims Social. Today, Zynga has fired its opening salvo in response, accusing EA of copying...

The DTOID Show: Zynga, Dishonored, and QuakeCon 2012!

Aug 03
// Tara Long
Happy Friday, lovelies! We've got a jam-packed show today, full of all the QuakeCon and copyright infringement news you can handle! We've also got footage of Assassin's Creed III's AnvilNext engine, a list of famous people l...

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