264: The Man Who Would be Zynga

The Man Who Would be Zynga

It's a little known fact that the creative head of Zynga is Bryan Reynolds, the man who brought us Civilization 2, Alpha Centauri and Rise of Nations. Russ Pitts sat down with Reynolds and asked him why making Facebook games is his focus right now.

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Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Well as long as he is happy there, and from most accounts FrontierVille was much better. Maybe he will help them make better games.Here is hoping.

Edit: Curse you SomeBritishDude! beat me to it XD.

I can't really blame him. When you read about how quick ideas can materialize and how the team is treated, it's no wonder he's working for the "enemy". Still doesn't mean I'll click any of those buttons, but I'm holding back the Judas lable.

That's a shame, Rise of Nations is one of my favourite games ever, I'd love a good sequel.

"Oh how the mighty have fallen"

Yes, he must be devestated. If only he could have signed with a company that gives him more cash for less work.

..Ohh wait.

Sorry, but I'm going to call bullshit on most of what I've just read.

Not what Bryan has to say about his experiences and such, he knows more about what he's seen than I have.

What I am calling bullshit on is all this "Zynga is taking over the gaming market, run for your life!"

When was the last time anyone on this site even cared about Zynga anymore? We had March Mayhem, then a bit after that there was nothing. E3 was all big budget stuff, current videogame related news are about the Kinect or the Playstation Move, or it's just about games. Hell, the last I remember about Zynga games is that news article about the Facebook game poking fun at Facebook games.

Zynga is like what the Wii was a long time ago: Something we all made a big deal about but now no longer bother with. The Wii doesn't advertise it's motion controls every 5 seconds anymore, much rather advertising it's selection of games, and Zynga is keeping itself to Facebook while we have our attention pointed at either the big titles or the indie games on PSN/XBLA/Steam.

And guess what? I'll bet you that the same thing will happen to Kinect and PSMove. People will make a big deal about it (come to think of it, many of us already have), then move on, and it will just be something irrelevant of the past. Still there, still accessible, but no longer in the spotlight.

Interesting, nice job Russ, he seems almost... human.

I don't see a big problem with them. They can play all the Facebook games they want, maybe I'll join them, maybe i'll just play other games. And hopefully the rest of the games industry doesn't go with them off this cliff, because that would leave us(the non-social-media-site gamers?) almost completely s.o.l.

I do see this eventually going to die, not because of anything but simple humanity. As humans, we get bored very easily, we start to question things after awhile. And eventually Zynga, and any other company, will have no way left to keep the people around. Then, there numbers will slowly trickle away and then hemorrhage off. and maybe they'll be left with a few people, who are still playing.

Things will always change, but that doesn't mean the changes won't change back.

I have few peeves with the casual games of facebook and the people who play them regularly to be frank. But what I do have a peeve with is that the way these things make money is through outright trickery of its fanbase of their money via scams and that it is a system in which it pays MORE to scam MORE. Plus on top of everything else, the fanbases ignorance results in any public outcry to indeed be nothing more than a 'storm in a teacup' because the ignorant don't even listen to the public outcry in the first place and keep clicking cows and possibly getting scammed.

Personally I am unaffected, because I don't play these games. However, the massive numbers of people who do play them (and remain ignorant about the pitfalls of these scams) are affected. At this point a cynic might say "So what? It's their money - their fault if they don't know how to manage it." while I'd say "There has to be better ways to promote casual games without screwing people over in the process and encouraging this sort of financial behaviour with all casual games!"

I'm in two minds whether or not to agree with you, Hubilub. On one hand, I know that most gamers don't care about Zynga - but on the other hand, I also care enough to really hate them.

I guess I come from a time when casual games simply didn't exist. Casual games, to me - are the McDonald's of the gaming world. I guess it's because they are so insubstantial in comparison to any AAA game and lacking in soul and character found in indie games.

However, having said all this: I should respect the right of every person who uses their software to use and even like their software.

casual gamers... they have their idol; and the rest of the gaming universe has theirs.

2 different cultures and what not hmm?

Maybe this will finally get more developers to start creating fun and interesting games instead of an interactive movie with a few bits of gaming in between. AAA titles are becoming more and more a one trick pony and the creativity of the gaming art genre has paid a terrible price for it. If we can see more games like Limbo make profit perhaps we might start heading back down a path where games are once again an experience to explore with every title we purchase.

So he basically joined the Devil of gaming? The Anti-christ I always obnoxiously preach about on every Zynga-related thread? Sad, but your life.

In all honesty, casual games are great when you are travelling, wanting to kill time fast or generally have some grinding sessions to feel better of yourself. But when people have to regulate their time and entire bio-clock to harvest their crops and all, it's becoming a sad and pathetic world.

They have it for the iPhone too. Farmville. Basically, push notifications interupt your sleep to notify you have crops to harvest. You can turn them off, but of course, clever as they are, you break your own game too. God, the headache and tears I shed for people who lost themselves too much like the kid who spend $1200 on Farmville alone.

God's speed.

My real problem with Zynga is that they basically steal their games. At least their most popular... MafiaWars was Mob Wars... and FarmVille was Farm Town.

I guess we're all supposed to be grateful that they actually paid for the idea this time, instead of just blatantly ripping it off to the tune of millions.

I wish that Bryan would go back to his roots. I think that he developed the best interface ever for a RTS game (Rise of Nations, which I still play at least once a week, and what I believe is one of the most underrated games of all time, Rise of Legends). He did great work with all of the Civilization series of games (Civ II, Colonization, and Alpha Centauri) which really should have been named after Bryan, not Sid Meier. I just feel that he sold out both himself and all of the true PC gamers by joining Zynga. I keep trying some of the Zynga games, but all of them, with maybe the exception of the poker game, are just mindless clickfests that try to get people to spend real money for a virtual item that has very very limited usefulness. Even so, the poker game itself is annoying me, as it does everything that it can to try to get more money out of the end user.

I do understand that Facebook provides a useful social interaction, but I think that the Zynga games are becoming the Amway of the internet. We are all sick of the facebook spam that these games generate. I joined facebook to connect with my friends, not to have them (via the Zynga game) ask me to give them a virtual object that they need for some useless collection. I don't care that somebody reached level 137 in the game. I think that it is not the sign of a good game when family and friends complain that that's all they see from you. I know that the application can be blocked, but if the game was good, why should everyone have to block it?

I think that what Blizzard is doing (and something that Bryan should be doing) regarding integrating Facebook with Battle.net is actually not a bad idea. Instead of Starcraft 2 being within Facebook, there are connectors that allow you to import Facebook friends into the game. They've also announced that they are going to provide further interaction, but I'll never have to log into Facebook to launch the game.

Please, Bryan, I urge you, come back to where you belong. I'm just incredibly sad that you exchanged respect for cash.

I don't think the AAA game industry has much to worry about. I have never, and will never spend money on casual Facebook gaming. I may play them but will never spend a hard earned dime on them. That money is saved for games with substance. :)

Wow this is awesome ^~^! Bryan Reynolds? Totally cool >~<! I sure am happy that he is working for Zynga, because that means that there may be some stand alone games in the future. Definitely a good career move though, as Zynga is the best place for him to be right now. While Zynga has made a mistake in the past, it should not cast a shadow on the company nowadays. It's pretty old news now anyway, and Zynga has been extremely careful with the offers that it provides ever since.

I don't think the AAA game industry has much to worry about. I have never, and will never spend money on casual Facebook gaming. I may play them but will never spend a hard earned dime on them. That money is saved for games with substance. :)

Well, I'd never pay for a Facebook game, and I rarely pay for AAA games, except indirectly through rentals. But if an indie game dev asks for my money, expect me to give it to them immediately, possibly wrapped in my underwear.

That money is saved for games with real substance.

Oh boy i can't wait for Mass Effect 3: Normandy Botany Deckville!

Russ Pitts:
creative head of Zynga

LOL. Oxymorons anyone?

Also, Facebook isn't a gaming platform, AAA titles are only "irrelevent" if you aren't a gamer, Zynga does not define games for even the majority of facebook users, if Reynolds thinks that he is "back in a space where we can start throwing real gameplay together in a month or so" I wonder why you didn't ask him why he hasn't started doing that in some of these games?

Honestly, I've play some of Zynga's games, never poured a dime into any of them, then left feeling as if I just wasted many hours of my life where I could have spent it playing a real game. All of their games, while are copies, are just copy and pasted click-a-thon, half-assed adventure games. There's no challenge, fun, nor is there any real return for all of the time wasted trying to play their games.

I also find it pointless to even visit Facebook anymore, but that's an issue for another day.

They're talking about 2 completely different platforms. I mean, I don't think - I'd like Diablo3, but what's the point when Frontierville is free to play - I can just sit on facebook and annoy anyone daft enough to be my friend with requests for random garbage that they can't give me.

I'd happily play a good Facebook game, something with some meat on it's bones, not a browser game that is basically stolen from some poor developer somewhere. I used to play Mafia Wars, big whoop, you wanna fight about it?...
Frankly, people who play all these Zynga and facebook games are a different market, they tend not to buy or play console games anyway. Notice that, your friends who like console or PC games, might play on FB, but they probably get sick of it pretty soon, and go back to console gaming before very long.


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