Monday, February 6, 2012
Big Brother Zynga
I worked at Zynga for 8 months, I can tell you all about the Good Stuff (yes, there is good stuff going on in there!), and the nasty-douchey stuff (yes, there is extremely CREEPY stuff going on in there!) [..].
Spying on players. Getting intimate gaming data, their habits, their networks, and how to effectively monetize given X [..].
Another issue was skewing gameplay for the sake of profit, example; I actually resorted to BAD MATH, to make the case for making a feature more fun. At the end of one sprint, a QA dude was complaining about the drop rate of a specific item being absurdly insane, and therefore UnFun. I looked at the code, and tweaked some values, gave it back to QA guy, and fun was restored. Product Manager overrides this, goes for unfun, yet more profitable version [..].
Internal metrics researchers often give studio wide talks on what trends are going on. They've basically tracked down very popular players and also players who've spent an excess of 10k into the game [..].
We often tweak our features to match and maximize for a particular gaming habit. We do this for massive populations of players. Players are not aware of this. To me, that's a big brother like issue, someone is measuring and monitoring your behavior intimately, and you don't know how that data is going to be used.
Yucky. Ppl spend 10K on Zynga games? Who are these fools?
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