There’s nothing quite so deliciously satisfying as pointing out the shortcomings of others, particularly when the object of scorn is a fallen giant that’s beaten a path to failsville almost as quickly as it rose to prominence. Zynga, it’s fair to say, has seen happier times.
Its share price has cratered and several production staff have anonymously penned poisonous blogs, all of which feature complaints about unreasonable pressure and broken promises. Meanwhile Zynga’s management team – of those that haven’t been dropped or demoted – face accusations of insider trading, an EA lawsuit, and, to top it all off, the gaming public at large has denounced the company as a shameless plagiarist.
My title for this month’s column might seem foolishly optimistic in light of all that. But the thing is, Zynga’s problems are not unique. Its problems may be more extreme, and they are certainly more visible than most, but social gaming has spread at an alarming rate and the growing pains are being felt everywhere.
Other giants of the realm – including Playfish, Gameforge, Bigpoint and several others – have made headlines for the wrong reasons over the last 12 months, with layoffs, cancelled projects and wavering stock prices featuring intermittently. But besides the negative press, these companies have something else in common. They are all selling different versions of the same thing.