Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
The decline of Zynga

Zynga had a rather bad year 2012. The share price dropped by over 80%, there were several rounds of layoffs, and at the end of the year they had to suddenly shut down over a dozen games. As Zynga isn't exactly a popular company, having a reputation for ripping off other games and causing a lot of people to spam each other on Facebook, those bad news were generally greeted with Schadenfreude. But of course for the millions of people who play Zynga games all of this isn't quite so funny. Just remember how upset the players of City of Heroes were when their game shut down; don't think that is any different if the game that shuts down is PetVille.

I'm still trying to keep up to date with games on many different platforms, including Facebook, so while waiting for the new Sim City to come out I was trying Zynga's new CityVille 2. That gave me some first hand experience of the trouble Zynga is in, because CityVille 2 is a buggy mess. It appears that Zynga made their games graphically more appealing, but that caused some technical troubles. In a game which revolves around requesting items from your neighbors, bugs that make requests to neighbors not go through are quite noticeable. And then suddenly my city got rolled back by a week. Zynga posted a warning on top of the screen: "CityVille 2 is experiencing rollback issues. Sorry if your City lost progress!" but obviously "sorry" doesn't cut it. I decided CityVille 2 isn't worth my time, and if that is an example of the quality of Zynga games, they'll have a hard time to save the company in 2013.

Guess I'll have to look for another city building game while waiting for Sim City. I hear Megapolis on the iPad is good.

Out of interest, Tobold, how do you feel about the 'controversy' surrounding the launch of Simcity? The always-online DRM that nobody from Maxis/EA really wants to address publicly?
I'll be the first one to say it: Zynga's layoffs most likely included the best of their QA staff. Assuming that they even have a QA staff left, that is.

Without a good QA staff, companies release buggy crap. Even with a good QA staff, companies can still release buggy crap if they ignore the warnings of QA personnel. Believe me, the latter happens more than people would care to know.

Well for city building... Sim City 4 still works fine and with the huge amount of mods available, it is not quite the same any more as when it was new. If anything, it's better now.

Oh and yes, another thing Sim City 5 and mods looks like a dire combination too...

I actually reinstalled Sim City 4 in anticipation of 5 and I found I like 4 so much, and dislike some stuff about 5 so much (like the always online DRM crap) that it looks like I'll skip 5 and keep playing 4...
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Well I have to agree on that. I played CityVille 1, with not much of a problem. When City Ville 2 was launched, I tried that right away, "super" on graphics but too many bugs that have to be fixed.

Zynga has shut down a dozen game and they are focusing on online gambling.

Should pretty much end the discussion about what kind of a company Zynga is... not a game company.
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