Someone claiming to be a former Zynga employee in this Reddit thread says that it was the modus operandi of the company to do exactly what it has been accused of by several developers in the last couple of weeks: copy games that were deemed successful. The alleged ex-Zynga software engineer claims that it was common practice at the company to clone popular titles, mistreat contract workers, and for some of the executives to engage in other behavior that he deemed "creepy."
"Tiny Tower + D Heights is all standard operating procedure here. If you can't buy em, clone em," user Mercenary-Games wrote, in an 'ask me anything' post on the social news website.
"Even the core technology for Farmville (MyMiniLife), was bought. The only 'home grown' codebases at Zynga is MafiaWars2 and maybe Poker, the rest of their tech was just bought from small studios. Look up Dextrose Engine. To me, that's utterly creepy. They try to choke out the competition by gating all these engine tech."
The former Zynga software engineer posted an image of his termination certification as proof of his employment, and said he left 6 months ago. He also claims that he worked on Frontierville. In his post he refers to his "team here at Mercenary Games," though it isn't abundantly clear whether this is a developer or social group. He also claimed that Zynga treated contractors as "second citizen employees" who had little control over their working hours and who were excluded from social events at the company.
"They are NOT welcome to company events; they are openly excluded from them. Yet, they want them to work twice as hard as regular full timers," he said.
"Remember the s*** when Pincus was announcing IPO plans? They kicked out all contractors off the office, and made em stay outside, while everyone got free chow and booze."
He went on to criticize the company's commitment to metrics, saying it is "a marketing company, not a games company" and explained that games are adapted to match the habits of big spenders and popular players. He also wanted to make clear his reasons for sharing his experiences on Reddit.
"This isn't payback, or about a grudge," he explained. "I was full time, offered stock (common shares, not that options bullcrap). I sympathised with contractors on how they were treated, most of the time. No, I was not some IT mangler. I worked for one of their "game studios", basically the front lines where content made it to the masses."
Finally, he said that he was unconcerned about blowback from Zynga mainly because software engineers see the "source code" and know the truth about how Zynga creates its games.