Zynga : Adapt Or Die
Beleaguered social gaming developer Zynga recently posted an impassioned response to what it felt was a misrepresentation in the press of its business-tactics and overarching ideology.
Dan Porter, GM of Zynga New York wrote an open letter to the Zynga community claiming that he did not admit that Zynga wilfully copied other games but that “all games are derived from other games”.
Porter goes on to state that “the debate over copying games is a distraction if you are trying to figure out the future of social games; what matters is the ability to run those games as a service”. It seems to me that the people over at Zynga have started to actually believe their own delusional rhetoric and, in doing so, have become irrevocably detached from the very thing that breathes life into them: their customers.
On one hand, I can relate to some elements of Porter’s argument (if you can call it that). There is little that’s truly new in any creative medium that has reached maturity and what we are left with is the slow mixing and matching of styles and influences. Black is, after all, the new black, darling. What worries me about Zynga’s viewpoint, however, it the seemingly blind and defeatist acceptance that gaming has reached such a juncture and the somewhat arrogant proclamation that it’s therefore perfectly acceptable to ease off the creative gas and instead focus on ways by which consumers can be milked for every penny they’re worth. Yes, it may become increasingly hard to be ‘fresh’ and ‘inventive’ as time goes by but that doesn’t mean that you should ever stop striving for meaningful developments, however hard they may be to find!
Cheat’s never prosper, or so we’re told
Can you imagine how dreary life would become of the artist ever stopped asking questions, the musician ever stopped exploring their own identity or the director ever stopped attempting to view the world from a different angle?
It’s also rather rich of Porter to effectively dismiss copyright as a workable model and claim that the focus is instead now on seeing who can make make the most money out of each other’s grand designs. The concept of intellectual-property and royalties clearly escapes Zynga; I wonder if they would behave quite so magnanimously were someone to directly lift and subsequently profit from one of their own ‘works’?
Perhaps, in their most recent round of internal and cost-cutting ‘re-structuring’, they fired the legal team that clearly no longer serves a purpose?
The general public, however dumb they may appear at times, are natural experts at sniffing out such inexcusable creative complacency and are every bit as fickle as the CEOs and GMs that wilfully attempt to bleed them for every last cent that they can. If you’re going to show no desire whatsoever to invest in a brighter future for your audience, expect the very same in return.
In fact, if you’re going to build an entire empire upon something that you openly admit requires little to no creative ingenuity, don’t be surprised if your equally mercenary business partners realise that they can cut you out of the equation entirely.
Or maybe the pathetic share price that’s a shadow of its former self didn’t make that lesson clear enough?
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