Why an OMGPOP dev shunned Zynga as 'evil'
Zynga's US$200 million purchase of Draw Something makers OMGPOP has been heralded as a wild success for the studio, but one former employee who did not join Zynga says the social-gaming giant asked for "too much".
Over at Gamasutra, former OMGPOP employee Shay Pierce has penned a piece spelling out why he did not sign up to work for Zynga following the company's acquisition last week. One side of it was romance, while the other was a difference in ideology, he said.
On the romantic side, Pierce noted that joining Zynga would create a conflict of interest, given that he had independently developed an iOS game called Connectrode (iTunes). According to Pierce, his wife had been the one to nudge him to make the game, and she had been his muse along the way — so much so that he programmed a custom dedication screen that shows up every time she launched the app.
"Zynga sells puzzle games on the iOS App Store. I sell a puzzle game on the iOS App Store," Pierce said. "Was this a 'conflict of interest' under the contract's definition, or not? If so, would Zynga act on that fact, or not?"
Not getting a clear answer from his new potential employer, Pierce called up an attorney and drafted an addendum to the contract, which he said was later rejected. In the end, Piece walked from the deal.
But Connectrode, which Pierce said has never been a big seller, was not the main reason. Pierce described a large part of his decision as centring on him simply not liking Zynga as a company or as part of the world of gaming.
"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," he said, before launching into a viewpoint on Zynga as a business:
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.
Without naming names, Pierce described a "good" company as one that "follows practices that are sustainable", while creating what he calls "valuable" goods or services made by employees who are treated as "valuable". For his part, Pierce said he was now going off on his own to try to build such a company, running a solo studio called Deep Plaid Games.
While not quite on the same level of scathing as Greg Smith's op-ed about leaving Goldman Sachs in The New York Times earlier this month, or James Whittaker's bid adieu to Google, Pierce's missive comes at a time when Zynga is under closer watch than ever. Last year, the company went public, opening up its financials to the world and placing increased importance on its longevity as a social-gaming company. OMGPOP is its first large-scale acquisition.