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#1 Edited by Stache (67 posts) -

As an avid listener of the Bombcast and daily visitor the site for the past 3-4 years, I occasionally hear Jeff and co. bring up my place of employ, Zynga.

This past week, Jeff made the off-hand comment that FarmVille is "made by bad people" - This hurts me personally, as I have worked for FarmVille for the past two years. This job enabled me to come to live in work in a city I've always loved, San Francisco. It's afforded me a comfortable, steady job, with great benefits, one in which I'm not worried about being laid off after my game is done its development cycle. It's allowed me to move to San Francisco and meet some of the people I've admired over the years, including Jeff and Dave at a California Extreme a few years back. It's been a great and wonderful thing in my life, and the lives of many others.

We are normal people with normal jobs, trying to keep our phenomenon of a game alive. Keep in mind, people would not pay us money or play our game at all if they didn't find some sort of enjoyment in it, even if you (and even us sometimes) just don't understand why they do.

We love our players, and they've enabledus to give back to the world in ways that most game companies don't have the ability or desire to do. We have run in-game promotions, which has given millions and millions of dollars to charities around the world. One of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my life was to be directly involved in a project in which we, along with our players, raised a million dollars to build a school in Haiti. That's amazing. and something that's possible no where else in this industry, period.

I'm not here to defend Zynga as a whole, and I won't sit here and argue with anyone that disagrees or chooses to feel differently. Ignore us, that's fine, don't play our game, because it's not for you. You can even disagree with our fundamental ways of doing business if you chose, I wont mind, as I don't always agree with everything either. But calling us "bad people", is just plain wrong, because I know all of them, and they are good people. Trust me, there are a lot worse people in this world than the people that make FarmVille.

#2 Posted by Ventilaator (1501 posts) -

He is totally doing the right thing, you guys.

#3 Posted by prestonhedges (1965 posts) -

"It's made by bad people" does not contain an absolute. Not everyone who makes FarmVille is bad.

Just some of them.

#4 Posted by Harpell (144 posts) -

I understand your sentiment, but I think he was referring to the higher ups, the business folks who designed Zynga games to entrap housewives and shut-ins to pay farcical sums for a virtual garden with little to no gameplay. No offense to you personally, but that shit is silly. And sure, there are WAY worse people than Zynga designers and marketers, but in this business, it's definitely on the lower end of the spectrum.

#5 Posted by jjnen (659 posts) -
@Harpell
I understand your sentiment, but I think he was referring to the higher ups, the business folks who designed Zynga games to entrap housewives and shut-ins to pay farcical sums for a virtual garden with little to no gameplay. No offense to you personally, but that shit is silly. And sure, there are WAY worse people than Zynga designers and marketers, but in this business, it's definitely on the lower end of the spectrum.
Pretty much this. Their aggressive growth strategy what makes them seem like a huge monster swallowing everything is partly the reason. And that shady plagiarism stuff of them copying smaller companies games is also one thing. Facebook games are pretty new thing still and gamers haven't accepted them as real games - I know I haven't.

One thing to know is that Zynga isn't the only one putting hooks to their social games. Popcap has done the same exact thing with Solitaire Blitz.
#6 Posted by MEATBALL (2785 posts) -

It was an off-handed joke about the higher ups at Zynga, I wouldn't get too upset about it.

#7 Edited by Hilbert (347 posts) -

@dylantarre said:

Keep in mind, people would not pay us money or play our game at all if they didn't find some sort of enjoyment in it, even if you (and even us sometimes) just don't understand why they do.

We love our players, and they've enabledus to give back to the world in ways that most game companies don't have the ability or desire to do.

What was your function at Zynga?

Because if you had any real function worth mentioning at all, I find it hard to believe that some fast bottom feeding yuppie takes the time to listen to a 3+ hours long pod cast.

Not to mention coders, who would never spend their time on game sites.

#8 Edited by ShiftyMagician (2128 posts) -

I'm sure that the comment wasn't made to be taken literal here. It's just a bluntly funny way to imply how he disagrees with Zynga's practices and the games they make, including the impacts they have had which can be debated were bad for the gaming industry. Personally I don't hold it against anyone who was tasked with creating and maintaining the games as of course, it's all part of the job in the end.

However if I was a part of the team that made FarmVille, honestly I would regret it, no matter the benefits that would have been made from it. If I wanted to make a game or be part of a team tasked with making a game, I would prefer making a game that is actually notable (or at least gave the impression that ambition was truly driving the development) and doesn't play to the lowest common denominator in a tasteless fashion. If Zynga attempted to release a game like FarmVille to consoles or as a stand-alone PC game installable instead, I guarantee that the company would not be here today. Should give you an idea as to how the gaming audience views Zynga's works overall and why unless a change in direction is made, the company will live and die in the social space. It should also make it clear why one might make the comment that FarmVille was made by at least 'some' bad people.

#9 Posted by JM12088 (40 posts) -

You make bad games. :(

#10 Posted by Lazyaza (2136 posts) -

When a company has figured out how to convince people to give up their lives for money that company is generally viewed as evil. It's ok Zynga isn't the only one, Blizzard is just as guilty of such business practices. While its debatable how much of the blame lies on the companies side and how much lies on the consumer, fact remains people think they are having fun with their products when they actually aren't (it's called being manipulated in to addictive behavior), they've simply been very cleverly taken advantage of through very intricate and business savvy means.

But I'm only saying that after recalling the countless hours I spent with WoW and looking back realizing just how much of that time was spent with a game I wasn't actually enjoying playing but somehow felt I needed to play and can only assume the Zynga games are the same but far far worse.

#11 Posted by JoeyRavn (4887 posts) -

@gladspooky said:

"It's made by bad people" does not contain an absolute. Not everyone who makes FarmVille is bad.

Just some of them.

This. If you are taking personally, OP, then you're doing something wrong. It's pretty clear that Jeff was talking about the heads of Zynga that force stupid pay-to-get-things policies, not the poor code monkeys who are just doing what they are told.

#12 Posted by shiptoncraig (149 posts) -

You can't take stuff like that personally. Unless you're the guy making the controversial decisions at Zynga, you're a guy just doing his job and focussing on the smaller picture.

#13 Posted by mordukai (7092 posts) -

@dylantarre said:

As an avid listener of the Bombcast and daily visitor the site for the past 3-4 years

And all this time you have learnt nothing of Jeff's occasional trolling.

#14 Posted by Rattle618 (1463 posts) -

@JoeyRavn said:

@gladspooky said:

"It's made by bad people" does not contain an absolute. Not everyone who makes FarmVille is bad.

Just some of them.

This. If you are taking personally, OP, then you're doing something wrong. It's pretty clear that Jeff was talking about the heads of Zynga that force stupid pay-to-get-things policies, not the poor code monkeys who are just doing what they are told.

Well that is one way to look at it. Justifying one`s actions by dumping responsibility on a chain of command is a very simple mechanism to enable the worst things a human can do.

I know the comparison is kind of extreme, but it is the same principle at work. OP has a choice here: get a nice secure job that allows him to do all the stuff he mentions and live a wonderful life being a part of something disgusting or stick to principles and try to make a living in a different way. In his situation I would probably do what he is doing too, but that doesnt mean it is the right thing to do.

Without the coders there would be no evil higher-ups doing whatever it is they are doing, we each do our part.

#15 Edited by TruthTellah (7647 posts) -

He has also said Anime is for jerks, and that's obviously not referring to everyone who likes Anime. Don't take his criticism of the top personally.

#16 Edited by TentPole (1858 posts) -

As others have said they do not mean every employee but it is hard to defend a company that reaps profit by systematically stealing designs and concept from smaller, more talented companies. Furthermore it is bad people who make games that prey on the more compulsive and ignorant of their customers as opposed to trying to offer there customers value for there money.

None of this is directed at you personally as I am sure there are many good heated, well intentioned people that work at Zinga. but the fundamental philosophies of the company are in my opinion both predatorial and morally wrong. In this context and with these beliefs I would not hesitate to say that Farmville is made by bad people. Yourself and other staff not included.

And to be fair I think Zinga is far from the only game company guilty of systematic exploitation, it is just one of the most brazen and successful.

#17 Posted by alternate (2655 posts) -

I am sure drug pushers feel unloved too :D

We love our players, and they've enabledus to give back to the world in ways that most game companies don't have the ability or desire to do.

You are the very reincarnation of Mother fucking Teresa.

#18 Posted by Barrock (3525 posts) -

You have a point, but I'd imagine Jeff understood that fact when he made the remark.

You also seem like a pretty decent dude. Stick around.

#19 Posted by Harpell (144 posts) -
@Barrock

You have a point, but I'd imagine Jeff understood that fact when he made the remark.

You also seem like a pretty decent dude. Stick around.

This. You definitely seem like a solid duder. Just dont sweat the flak. I work for a PC repair business that takes a lot of shit for some business practices unrelated to my position, which I totally understand. I don't take any of it personally, it's just a position to me.
#20 Posted by JoeyRavn (4887 posts) -

@Rattle618 said:

Well that is one way to look at it. Justifying one`s actions by dumping responsibility on a chain of command is a very simple mechanism to enable the worst things a human can do.

I know the comparison is kind of extreme, but it is the same principle at work. OP has a choice here: get a nice secure job that allows him to do all the stuff he mentions and live a wonderful life being a part of something disgusting or stick to principles and try to make a living in a different way. In his situation I would probably do what he is doing too, but that doesnt mean it is the right thing to do.

Without the coders there would be no evil higher-ups doing whatever it is they are doing, we each do our part.

You are blowing stuff way out of proportion. Banality of evil, really? It's clear that Jeff was talking about the suits that only care for money, not the common Zynga employee. You can't blame the "labor hand" for the decisions made by the decision-makers. If FarmVille wants to suck you dry out of your money, I'm pretty sure it's because some precise individuals sitting in fancy chairs decided it was so, not because random guy #48649 on the art team wants it.

To each their own, I guess. If the OP feels Jeff's words were directed to him, he's entitled to do so and complain about it. I'm just saying that you guys are understanding this in the completely opposite way of what Jeff meant. After his track record, you'd think Jeff would know how's to blame in the corporate world.

#21 Posted by Jimbo (9710 posts) -
"Keep in mind, people would not pay us money or play our game at all if they didn't find some sort of enjoyment in it, even if you (and even us sometimes) just don't understand why they do."
 
Is it really enjoyment though, or is it a low level of obsessive behaviour which is being actively encouraged and abused in order to make money?  Zynga monetise psychological addiction as cynically as drug dealers monetise chemical addiction, it's just that the consequences of the former aren't generally as bad or apparent as the latter, so nobody feels compelled to do anything about it.  There may be elements of enjoyment in there for the consumer at times, but I really don't think that's the primary driving force that's made these games so massive and profitable.  Cow Clicker demonstrates the phenomenon.
 
I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to say it makes you a bad person, but don't kid yourself that what you're working on is designed to make money out of your customers' enjoyment - it's designed to foster a process addiction in people and then leverage it to make money out of them.
#22 Posted by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

Jeff knows Amer Ajami back when he worked at Gamespot for 3 years. I think Jeff was joking when he says that, or he just really hates Farmville

#23 Posted by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

I think the fact that you said this: people would not pay us money or play our game at all if they didn't find some sort of enjoyment in it, even if you (and even us sometimes) just don't understand why they do.

perfectly explains the problem with Zynga as a business.

#24 Edited by jakonovski (186 posts) -

So is there some compelling evidence to indicate Zynga ruins lives with WhateverVille games or is it just an urban legend?

#25 Posted by MideonNViscera (2257 posts) -

My buddy has to lie about how much money he takes home each pay so that his girlfriend thinks she has less money to waste on Farmville. That's not Farmville's fault, though I do think it's retarded.

#26 Posted by McGhee (6091 posts) -

Maybe you're not a "bad" person.

How about just a little sleazy?

#27 Edited by Chris86 (65 posts) -

From my understanding there are two main controversies surrounding Zynga:

1. They rip off other games (Farm Town etc.)

2. Their games make people unhappy. Jonathan Blow put it like this:

I still wouldn't tell people, "Don't make that game" exactly, I would say, "Think about what you're making and be careful when you make it and try not to exploit players." But I mean now that we've got FarmVille and stuff like that, I pretty much would say "don't make that kind of game" because I don't see much value in it.

It's only about exploiting the players and yes, people report having fun with that kind of game. You know, certain kinds of hardcore game players don't find much interest in FarmVille, but a certain large segment of the population does. But then when you look at the design process in that game, it's not about designing a fun game. It's not about designing something that's going to be interesting or a positive experience in any way -- it's actually about designing something that's a negative experience.

It's about "How do we make something that looks cute and that projects positivity" -- but it actually makes people worry about it when they're away from the computer and drains attention from their everyday life and brings them back into the game. Which previous genres of game never did. And it's about, "How do we get players to exploit their friends in a mechanical way in order to progress?" And in that or exploiting their friends, they kind of turn them in to us and then we can monetize their relationships. And that's all those games are, basically.

And there's this kind of new way where people are, like Bryan Reynolds working on FrontierVille and stuff, making it supposedly deeper, but that kind of thing has been very token so far. And in fact, I would argue that the audience of that kind of game doesn't necessarily want a deeper game, or certainly that's not proven; it's very speculative.

So I would say don't make that stuff. If you want to make a Facebook game, there are a lot of very creative things that could be done, but the FarmVille template is not the right one.

Care to comment on either of these two things? Because if not I don't really see how we can have a conversation about whether or not the people behind these games are "bad people". (Although as others have said, I'm sure Jeff is just referring to 'the suits'.)

#28 Posted by laserbolts (5309 posts) -

Man as long as you're bringing home the bacon and supporting your family why would you give a fuck about what Jeff thinks? I don't think his comment was directed at artists over at Zynga but more the business people over there anyways.

#29 Posted by Breadfan (6586 posts) -
@Chris86 He's just jealous Braid isn't on par with Farmville
#30 Posted by GunslingerPanda (4480 posts) -

I want to give you a hug. I think Jeff was more referring to the corporate bigwigs at Zynga who are just looking to rake in the cash, not the guys on the floor working on the game.

Also, fuck some of you guys, acting like they're drug dealers or some shit. All they do is make games. There's microtransactions; a ton of games do this now. Blizzard do this with WoW. Tribes: Ascend does this. Team Fortress 2 does this. Mass Effect 3 does this. Where's your vitriol for them? But because it's a facebook game that is enjoyed by people you deem "lower" than yourselves because they don't like your precious XBox games, suddenly it's the most disgusting thing on Earth. I don't play it, I don't even have a facebook, so maybe I'm missing something, but some of you guys are coming across as real dicks.

But then you will quote Jonathan Blow, a pretentious fuck who's so in love with his own "artistic" deification that he's way out of touch with reality.

#31 Posted by tooPrime (334 posts) -

@Hilbert said:

@dylantarre said:

Keep in mind, people would not pay us money or play our game at all if they didn't find some sort of enjoyment in it, even if you (and even us sometimes) just don't understand why they do.

We love our players, and they've enabledus to give back to the world in ways that most game companies don't have the ability or desire to do.

What was your function at Zynga?

Because if you had any real function worth mentioning at all, I find it hard to believe that some fast bottom feeding yuppie takes the time to listen to a 3+ hours long pod cast.

Not to mention coders, who would never spend their time on game sites.

I'm having a hard time articulating in a constructive manner how douche-y this post is.

#32 Posted by Hector (3346 posts) -

It's too late...he's already been indoctrinated by Harbinger!

#33 Posted by Beforet (2884 posts) -

Hey, let's personally attack this guy for having a job!

#34 Posted by okoctothorpe (71 posts) -

@GunslingerPanda said:

I want to give you a hug. I think Jeff was more referring to the corporate bigwigs at Zynga who are just looking to rake in the cash, not the guys on the floor working on the game.

Agreed. You already know how lucky you are to be working in the games industry. No matter what an individual's job is, they should have pride in their work.

I personally don't play Farmville, but it's not made for me. Zynga designed a product for a perceived hole in the market and they filled it. Some might argue they filled it TOO well due to some people's obsessive playing, but that ultimately is the responsibility of the individual, not the company. J.Blow's critique makes it seem as though Farmville is the only game to try this model of chaining its players to the experience, but we've seen this a few times. (Remember Tamagatchis, anyone?) A lot of MMOs do this too. If you can't handle playing a game, then don't play it.

#35 Posted by Animasta (14460 posts) -

@Beforet said:

Hey, let's personally attack this guy for having a job!

BUT HE WORKS AT A GAME COMPANY WE DON'T LIKE D:

yeah zynga sucks but Im not gonna bag on you because of it, this might be better sent as an email to the podcast.

#36 Edited by ProfessorEss (7123 posts) -

@dylantarre: Jeff has a lot of good qualities but if he has one glaringly bad quality it's his tendency to spout rude ignorance when he doesn't like something. I'm always assume (and hope) he's just doing it for chuckles.

I played and enjoyed Farmville for a while, it's a decent game for what it is. Don't let the noise from the jaded haters drown out the fact that the game you helped make has given millions of people billions of hours of entertainment.

#37 Edited by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@gladspooky said:

"It's made by bad people" does not contain an absolute. Not everyone who makes FarmVille is bad.

Just some of them.

Actually, no.  Jeff is a person of some authority in this industry and as such his statement needs to be qualified otherwise it may be taken as is.  The qualifications could be some, a few, many and even some factual basis, rather than just statements.
 
@Jimbo said:

"Keep in mind, people would not pay us money or play our game at all if they didn't find some sort of enjoyment in it, even if you (and even us sometimes) just don't understand why they do."  Is it really enjoyment though, or is it a low level of obsessive behaviour which is being actively encouraged and abused in order to make money?  Zynga monetise psychological addiction as cynically as drug dealers monetise chemical addiction, it's just that the consequences of the former aren't generally as bad or apparent as the latter, so nobody feels compelled to do anything about it.  There may be elements of enjoyment in there for the consumer at times, but I really don't think that's the primary driving force that's made these games so massive and profitable.  Cow Clicker demonstrates the phenomenon.  I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to say it makes you a bad person, but don't kid yourself that what you're working on is designed to make money out of your customers' enjoyment - it's designed to foster a process addiction in people and then leverage it to make money out of them.


You're a rude psuedo-intellectual bigot.  Of the highest order.   DLC, iPad offshoot games, Weapon skins, swag, rising retail prices, killing second hand market, EA 10 Dollar Plan -- All things happening in the console games industry and you decide to to attack some guy with a job who has the decency to stand up for his employer and himself.  Weren't you leaving Giantbomb?  I though you said you were leaving. 
 
EDIT : Took out 'rude' word because that is somehow more offensive than calling someone a bad person for doing their job in an industry which is filled with many of the same types of jobs selling stuff in the same types of ways.  Yes a word is an awful thing, but telling someone they are bad for doing their job isn't.
#38 Posted by MikkaQ (10225 posts) -

I don't know why people are so eager to shit on Zynga here. Yeah they do some shifty things to get money, but the fact is you're looking at a what is still a relatively small game company (one with that's publicly traded and has good revenue, but still), compared to EA who employs three times as many people, and exploits gamers in the exact same ways, EA tries to get you to buy your way through their games with shitty microtransactions, bad DLC practices and online passes. And the addiction is there too, gamers all line up to buy sequels to games they've spent two years complaining about. They're suckers just like everyone on Farmville.

And that's just one of them, Ubi and Activision are all pretty similarly scummy too. Shit "hardcore" gaming has more Zynga-types to deal with than Facebook gamers do. Maybe we should deal with the problems in our corner of the woods before we shit on another as a community.

#39 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

This topic is the paramount of maturity. Well done, Giant Bomb.

@GunslingerPanda said:

I want to give you a hug. I think Jeff was more referring to the corporate bigwigs at Zynga who are just looking to rake in the cash, not the guys on the floor working on the game.

Also, fuck some of you guys, acting like they're drug dealers or some shit. All they do is make games. There's microtransactions; a ton of games do this now. Blizzard do this with WoW. Tribes: Ascend does this. Team Fortress 2 does this. Mass Effect 3 does this. Where's your vitriol for them? But because it's a facebook game that is enjoyed by people you deem "lower" than yourselves because they don't like your precious XBox games, suddenly it's the most disgusting thing on Earth. I don't play it, I don't even have a facebook, so maybe I'm missing something, but some of you guys are coming across as real dicks.

But then you will quote Jonathan Blow, a pretentious fuck who's so in love with his own "artistic" deification that he's way out of touch with reality.

Also, this.

#40 Posted by MethodMan008 (796 posts) -

I've never played a Zynga game, and thus had no opinion of them before today.

Because of the TC I now like Zynga. I feel for you, man.

#41 Posted by Grixxel (758 posts) -

These things are just a bunch of duders shooting the shit, not all of it should be taken seriously. And I'm pretty sure you have some shitty pricks working there as well as some amazing ones. You know why we know this? Because every single company/enterprise/whatever has em. To even pretend otherwise is a flat out lie :x

#42 Posted by bigsmoke77 (778 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow: Why do you need use name calling? Grow up.

#43 Posted by falling_fast (2144 posts) -

@Hilbert said:

Not to mention coders, who would never spend their time on game sites.

um, what?

#44 Posted by DeathbyYeti (739 posts) -

i stand by Jeffs remark that they are bad people only because you made a post about it. Internet something something

#45 Posted by YI_Orange (1073 posts) -

There's no reason to defend yourself and your co-workers. The people who would will understand your defense already do, and the jackasses never will.

#46 Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1722 posts) -

An institution can be rotten without every member of that institution being rotten. You're one of the guys Jeff was not talking about, maybe.  
 
Your defense does seem a bit  disingenuous however, when you do not address the most common complaints surrounding the company and instead divert attention to the multi-billion dollar company you work for making.....a school in Haiti. 

#47 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@bigsmoke77 said:

@SeriouslyNow: Why do you need use name calling? Grow up.

Sorry did my insulting someone else offend you somehow?
#48 Posted by bybeach (4602 posts) -

Farmville may be made with some dubious instincts. But remember, no one forces ppl. to play or not play Farmville. In fact I would prefer a society that allows for it than not. In that context I would look at it at the same way as Jeff does, but maybe with some thought refrain from going after ppl., unless you knew for a fact so and so was a blatant asshole. Otherwise you are rounding up the I-Have -a-job ppl. with the marketing dickheads (just did some rounding up myself really)

But I understand why it hurts. Unfortunatly Farmville does draw those kind of comments. Got to roll, rick-roll it away....maybe go on a visionary quest by the Amazon and find some meaning to assauge the pain.

#49 Posted by TooWalrus (12973 posts) -

@dylantarre said:

This hurts me personally

Such a delicate flower. The endless spam that floods my facebook annoys the shit out of me, personally. I guess we're even.

#50 Posted by LordAndrew (13985 posts) -
"Made by bad people" is such a Jeff comment. He says those kinds of things, but you shouldn't get offended by them. He also makes broad statements about people who post on message boards, and yet here we are accepting it. He doesn't like the way Zynga is run. Please don't take offence to that. Despite how he phrased it, it wasn't really targeted at you.