For many Facebook users, it's hard to understand how someone could waste so much time building a fictional farm or organized crime family on either of Zynga's social media games Farmville and Mafia Wars.
What may be even more difficult to understand is how one Mafia Wars player allegedly spent $100,000 on the game.
In a thread titled IAmA Former FullTime Zynga Engineer => quit 6 months ago. Not a contractor, (Z treats em like shit), the user mercenary-games answered several questions about Zynga and the company's corporate culture. Though it's nearly impossible to determine whether this IAmaA hosts assessment of the company is accurate, the conversation gathered lots of media attention (such as here and here). The author also provided this photo as evidence of his seperation from the company.
When one Reddit user asked What creepy stuff went on? the author said the following:
Ill add more to the creepy stuff, specifically concerning contractor workers. Z treats them like second citizen employees, they almost have no feedback or say on their work schedule. I've seen people waiting to turn full time, but only spend more time as a contractor because of office politics. Worst of all; they are NOT welcome to company events, they are openly excluded from them. Yet, they want them to work twice as hard as regular full timers.
He also added:
Spying on players. Getting intimate gaming data, their habits, their networks, and how to effectively monetize given X. Another issue was skewing gameplay for the sake of profit, example; I actually resorted to BAD MATH, to make the case for making a feature more fun. 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.
The IAmA thread creator was also critical of Facebook and Zynga's symbiotic relationship. He said that the two companies are in cahoots. He then went on to ridicule the entire social media gaming industry that exists on Facebook: It's a cartel, he said. Indie game design will never thrive in FB, because of this culture.
After generating a lengthy discussion and hundreds of comments, the thread creator returned to the conversation to apologize on behalf of the game developer that he works for:
A Short Apology : it seems that some arguments here got a bit heated, no thanks to the kind of language I used. For that, my team here at Mercenary Games requests that I apologize and be held accountable, so here it is; I apologize for any upsets this thread has caused, I did not mean for that to happen. I also apologize for my part in creating several flamewar threads on this post.