Zynga’s copycat games ‘squander talent’, say mobile devs

By Brenna Hillier
21 August 2012 06:11 GMT

Zynga wastes its talented and creative employees by developing derivative games, a couple of independent mobile developers have argued.

In an interview on Develop, Nimblebit’s David Marsh said the “most annoying thing” about Zynga’s alleged habit of cloning successful games is that it doesn’t take advantage of the publisher’s talented employees.

“I know that there are lots of really talented people at Zynga because I used to work with them and they all went to work at Zynga,” he said.

“It’s just kind of sad for me to think that they would all get tasked with just ‘here’s a game, make something exactly like it’ instead of ‘here’s a genre, a basic idea, what can you come up with?’

“The most exciting part of game development for us is just starting with that small nugget at the beginning, and based on the personalities of the people on the team and they’re skills, seeing it evolve and grow and see what you come up with by the end of everything. For Zynga, it’s almost like they’re just saying, at least for the people that worked on Tiny Tower, that it’s an optional part of game development and not a necessary step.”

Mobile Pie’s Will Luton, who conducted the interview, described the situation as “talent squandered”.

“I would agree with that,” Marsh said. The developer also argued that many companies clone games because they just don’t have the skill to do otherwise, but that this doesn’t apply to Zynga.

“I think everyone who works in this industry knows multiple people that have gotten snapped up by Zynga or have gone to work at companies that have been bought by Zynga,” he said.

Zynga’s Dream Heights is markedly similar to Nimblebit’s Tiny Tower. The independent developer chose not to pursue the matter – Marsh even commented in the interview linked above that he didn’t think it had much impact on the game’s success – but did post a scathing letter in response.

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