Zynga: Do it “light, fast and right”

By Brenna Hillier, Tuesday, 1 March 2011 05:09 GMT

How do you come up with what is undoubtedly one of the most popular games on the planet? Very quickly, according to Zynga’s GDC presentation.

Develop reports the casual king’s talk highlighted Zynga’s blitzkrieg approach to development.

“Speed wins. Get to the market fast,” said Mark Skaggs, vice president of product development.

Skaggs, a strategy veteran of Command & Conquer fame, outlined two of the companies key philosophies: “5 minute design” and “light, fast and right”.

“If we couldn’t figure out what was most fun, we went for the most obvious thing,” he said, admitting that in order to make deadlines, the team usurped code from another title, YoVille.

“We only did the minimum amount of art that was needed to ship.

“At the time discussions were like, ‘can we get away with only twelve types of crops for launch? Well, we only have time for nine’. It was about doing the minimum to get the game out the door.”

As everyone now knows, it worked. Five days after release, the game had one million users. At its peak, Farmville has recorded player numbers of 32.5 million – enough, Skagga said, to form a queue six times the distance between New York and San Francisco.

“Our team had an internal goal of getting 400,000 unique players by June 30th…. thing is, we launched June 19th,” he said.

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