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More On Why It Stinks To Work At Zynga 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-fun-and-games-until-somebody-loses-options dept.
bdking writes "If a recent internal survey and reviews left on glassdoor.com are to be believed, working at social games company Zynga isn't much fun. Zynga's competitive, metrics-driven culture may be scaring away potential acquisitions and forcing out employees seeking better work-life balance and less stress."
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More On Why It Stinks To Work At Zynga

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:58PM (#38193932)

    According to the article, PopCap turned down their offer and went with Electronic Arts instead, because they thought that working conditions would be better at EA. Yes, read that last part again: they would rather deal with the working conditions at EA than work for Zynga. That's pretty bad.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Anything on EA's conditions?
      I haven't heard anything about the working conditions at EA aside from jokes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:09PM (#38194046)

        The most visible citation is this: http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

        There's likely similar stories out there, with a little help from Google.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EA_Spouse

        • by PatDev (1344467) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:14PM (#38194110)
          The best part of the (sorta) linked article is that the author of EA Spouse now works for Zynga as Lead Systems Designer.

          That poor couple just can't catch a break!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            the wikipedia article uses her linkedin profile as a source. according to that, she no longer works at zynga.

          • by syousef (465911)

            The best part of the (sorta) linked article is that the author of EA Spouse now works for Zynga as Lead Systems Designer.
            That poor couple just can't catch a break!

            The "poor couple" are idiots. Why would you stay in the games industry after that experience? Get out! Or at the very least refuse to do the overtime and leave if they force you out. If you have a passion for games, get working on an indie game in your spare time - who cares how far you get....or you know spend some time actually playing games others make.

      • by crankyspice (63953) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:12PM (#38194094)

        Anything on EA's conditions?
        I haven't heard anything about the working conditions at EA aside from jokes.

        I haven't seen much lately, but in 2004 it was alleged that EA sucked the soul (or at least any semblance of work-life balance) out of its employees... http://news.cnet.com/Electronic-Arts-faces-overtime-lawsuit/2100-1043_3-5450316.html [cnet.com]

        They settled a couple of years ago for millions, no word on whether conditions have improved. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/apr/26/business/fi-ea26 [latimes.com]

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          It is my understanding [based off pure guessing] that their working conditions have worked incredibly from a PR perspective, thanks to their new NDA and lawsuit weavers that employee families must sign when they are hired, get married, adopt kids or plainly have kids.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GameboyRMH (1153867)

        The nightmarish working conditions at EA are legendary. Those "jokes" you've heard? Probably real-life anecdotes.

        The game development industry as a whole is a shitty place to work though, EA is just widely known as the worst of the lot.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          The game development industry as a whole is a shitty place to work though,

          That's sad, I really hoped things would have gotten better by now. Back in the '90s-'00s I was so heavily into gaming that Charles Broussard and Warren Marshall were on a first name basis with me (I ran a popular Quake site). I talked with both gamers and game devs, and was always glad I didn't go into that business.

          I'd hoped they might have matured some since then. I see they haven't.

          • by nschubach (922175) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:04PM (#38194668) Journal

            From what I'm told by a friend in the business, it's still common for devs to hop from studio to studio on loan or being laid off from one place to the next because they finished X project. What I hear is that it's a crap shoot if the studios will keep you after release.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Not accurate unless you're a contractor, and I think the best advice that I can possibly give as someone who's been in the game industry for over 6 years is to not be a contractor in the game industry. You don't get as many benefits, you're typically given less consideration than "real" employees, you barely get any equity (if at all), you don't get paid time off.

              To be perfectly honest, EA has its shit together nowadays. Although a number of their releases are lukewarm at best, they've done a good job at ke

        • The nightmarish working conditions at EA are legendary. Those "jokes" you've heard? Probably real-life anecdotes.

          I find http://trenchescomic.com/ [trenchescomic.com] to be one of the best reads out there now. Not for the comics but for the anonymous stories.
          Sure there's the potential people will start to exaggerate to make the story more interesting (who doesn't?) but I've heard enough anecdotally from the industry that truth is always stranger than fiction. And the earliest stories collected before the site was launched are nuts too. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. If it was honey and roses there wouldn't even be a debate.

          If I do pur

    • by Tomato42 (2416694) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:06PM (#38194016)
      That really says more than the whole article!
    • by Zarim (1167823) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:12PM (#38194084)
      This reminds me of something one of the teacher's assistants at my college had said. He'd done a paid internship at Zynga and the president at one point had said to the developers (it's been a few years so I'm paraphrasing) "You are not smart. Your ideas are not innovative. You're not here to make the next greatest thing, you're here to rip off what already works and tweak it so we can maximize profits."
    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:13PM (#38194102)

      According to the article, PopCap turned down their offer and went with Electronic Arts instead, because they thought that working conditions would be better at EA.

      Well, there was also the problem that, with Zynga, you're always last in line at the conference registration table - all the good swag is gone long before it's finally your turn.

      Absoft wasn't interested in acquiring PopCap, so EA was the best they could do.

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        I just don’t get why they wanted to be acquired. They had a darn nice business there, making fun games and from all my understanding doing a darn good profit. Why pursue selling that off?

        I understand if you are relaxing at a company picnic one day and being offered hundreds of millions of dollars and not being able to resist temptation. But from what I hear they actively pursued selling the business.

  • nice comments (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:08PM (#38194032)
    Companies display a big lack of management sklills when employees post things like:
    *Stop asking if Mark is a good CEO on a company survey that people fill out over their company-issued computers. Everyone assumes it can be tracked.
    * Expect to find yourself micromanaged by someone much less skilled than you, and who also has no skills in management.
  • Quelle surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:16PM (#38194136) Homepage
    I'm shocked, *shocked* that a job involving writing human Skinner boxes [wikipedia.org] masquerading as games is less than spiritually satisfying.

    I'm equally shocked that a company whose business revolves around getting money from people via human Skinner boxes masquerading as games might be a bunch of worthless dicks and not that much fun to work for.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    for distributing some javascript that ran in greasemonkey which clicked buttons in their game. Fuck Zynga.

  • a disgruntled employee.

  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joss (1346) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:24PM (#38194228) Homepage

    It *should* suck to work in that stupid place. If you're doing something that is a parasite on society to make a living at least at least you should have a miserable time doing it. Do something productive instead like, I dunno, deal heroin or something.

    http://insertcredit.com/2011/09/22/who-killed-videogames-a-ghost-story/chapter/2/ [insertcredit.com]

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Mod up!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, they sure do deserve to suffer for the crime of making something you don't like. Because it is inherently immoral to not plan your career around what Slashdot poster joss approves of.

      And yes, that IS literally exactly what you meant.

  • Another data point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:36PM (#38194356) Homepage Journal

    A friend from church mentioned to me a while ago that Zynga had been trying to recruit his son, a 16 year-old junior in high school. That really made me wonder about the company. The kid's smart, no doubt about it, and a decent coder (his code is functional, but not particularly clean or maintainable -- pretty typical for a bright novice), but I can really only think of one reason why a company would want to hire a 16 year-old, put him up in an apartment in NYC and make him write code full-time: To exploit his willingness to work insane hours for peanuts until he burns out.

    If they really thought he was brilliant and a great long-term hire, they'd offer him an internship and help pay for his college education in exchange for some work now and a lot more work after he gets some CS knowledge to go along with his coding skills.

    His parents refused to let him go... they didn't like the idea of turning a 16 year-old loose on his own in NYC, for some reason. I'm encouraging him to apply for a summer internship at Google. Most of those go to college students, but I think he's good enough to make the cut, and a summer internship will pay him well for a great learning opportunity without compromising his continuing formal education.

    • by sdguero (1112795) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:20PM (#38194864)
      How does Zynga even know this 16 year old exists? Is his resume on linked in or something?

      Seems like the parents are pushing this kid kinda hard to begin with... Why would you even try and send a 16 year old into a program designed for college students?

      Take a deep breath. Slow down. Relax.
  • by argmanah (616458) <argmanah&yahoo,com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:46PM (#38194466)
    If putting out a good, clean product is nowhere in the requirements for your software, why would you compensate the people enough to retain people competent enough to put out a good, clean product? Do you remember that slacker in your CS/IT classes? You know who I'm talking about, the one who never did any of the work in group projects but took all of the credit when it was time to present it to the class. The one who has the same degree you do, but couldn't code his way out of a cardboard box. They need jobs too! Sorry, but the Tech world has been somewhat insulated from the recession, and finding a job in CS/IT isn't that hard right now. If you're stuck at Zynga, there might be a reason.

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