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Zynga Chokes out Competition, Ex-Employee Confirms

An ex-Zynga employee has spoken out on Reddit about his old company's business practices, corroborating reports that it does choke out competition and clone games from smaller firms.

With much controversy surrounding the Facebook game developer off late, many have asked questions regarding Nimblebit, a developer that has accused Zynga of cloning its tower based game after it refused to let the larger developer buy up the franchise.

When asked for his opinion on this matter, the ex-employee responded: "Tiny Tower + D Heights is all standard operating procedure here. If you can't buy em, clone em. Even the core technology for FarmVille (MyMiniLife), was bought. The only "homegrown" codebases at Zynga is MafiaWars2 and maybe Poker, the rest of their tech was just bought from small studios. Lookup Dextrose Engine. To me, that's utterly creepy. They try to choke out the competition by gating all these engines and tech."

'Creepy' was quite a focus of the discussion, with many Reddit users asking what other "creepy" activities Zynga takes part in. The ex-employee was more than happy to expand on this.

"Spying on players. Getting intimate gaming data, their habits, their networks, and how to effectively monetize given X."

Many would agree that these sorts of business practices are pretty unsavoury. Some of the other stuff was less "creepy" and more typical corporate. Something we've come to expect:

"At the end of one sprint, a QA dude was complaining about the drop rate of a specific item being absurdly insane, and therefore UnFun. I looked at the code, and tweaked some values, gave it back to QA guy, and fun was restored. Product Manager overrides this, goes for unfun, yet more profitable version."

Now working for Mercenary games, the guy responsible for the QnA has since issued an apology for some of the flame wars inspired by the comments he left.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus recently commented on claims that his company simply copied others if it couldn't buy them out. He said that everyone was influenced by previous games and that older titles would undoubtedly lead to improved games in a similar vein in the future.

"Google didn't create the first search engine. Apple didn't create the first mp3 player or tablet. And Facebook didn't create the first social network. But these companies have evolved products and categories in revolutionary ways. They are all Internet treasures because they all have specific and broad missions to change the world."

"We don't need to be first to market. We need to be the best in market."

What do you think? Does Zynga do what everyone else does, or is it an aggressive bully firm, pushing smaller developers out of the game?

Dipping his toes into almost everything that could be labeled 'nerdy' in his free time, Jon has been writing about technology for over half a decade. While mainly focusing on PC hardware thoughout this time, today he's more varied, covering everything from gaming to general electronics, industry perspectives and consoles. As well as writing for different sites, Jon enjoys wargaming, reading and PC gaming, hoping to balance out these geeky pastimes with fire spinning and MMA.