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1 person found this helpful  

Dinosaur game making process.

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

I worked at Zynga full-time for more than a year

Pros

Great benefits along with some great people you meet along the way.

Cons

The game making process is not evolving fast enough. Too much following of what's trending right now instead of being innovative and unique. Management seems to think there is a formula to make a successful game but they forget the number one factor of a successful game is the fun factor. Too much focus is made on their amazing ability to gather data, which makes them over reliant on it.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

You have some great teams over there, start believing that they can make games without all the ridiculous approval proccess. It stifles creativity and just makes teams cater games to what you guys want instead of the players.

Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO

349 Other Employee Reviews for Zynga (View Most Recent)

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    A Learning experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer

    I worked at Zynga full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    As the title said it was a learning experience. The scale of the games gives you immense opportunity to learn if you are on the back end services team. We used relatively new tech stack such as redis, node.js, coffeescript while it was still a up and coming thing. Free food and snacks are good and did offset some of the salary cut the pre-ipo hired took. No limits on hardware and quality equipment to work with.

    Cons

    I personally felt the cons outweighed the pros and thats why I decided to leave.

    * While the learnings were fun, it was a short lived experience. The learnings stopped once I realized that the company tends to repeat itself again and again and is not keen on taking a step back to realize what might or might not be working.
    * Company is risk averse w.r.t technology. Proven numbers around performance with modern stack was dismissed in favor of PHP only because the company had lots of PHP developers/ops and thought they OPS might not be able to support it.
    * Working in a remote studio was absolutely painful as we got work that SFO didnt want or didnt care(this was fatal as it meant your quarterly bonus was non existant)
    * Merit increases were highly political. It went to SFO people always and unless your manager had good impressions about you, you end up getting nothing.
    * Product managers and directors can be extremely political. Our remote office clearly felt the directory preferred young engineers as they put more time at work that than the ones that had families.
    * Not all perks werent matched as SFO even for a US satellite office. No parking match.
    * Zynga does not value engineers at all. I would be surprised if any thing like a Spanner, Hive, HipHop, Kafka or any such innovative tech stack come out of Zynga as its just not valued or rewarded. If you did a quick fix that ticked unique users up in a month then you will be recognized as a star or an atlas or whatever crap they paraded in company meeting. On the other hand you spent weeks to improve a bad PHP code base and reduced server count, you get nothing.
    * unprofessional executives - The way the chief people officer behaved was shocking. Their on stage interactions with other executives on quarterly company meetings was awkward and embarrassing.
    * Mark Pincus - Extremely reactive founder. It doesnt take much to spook him and he will quickly change directions. For instance when the Sims took off he killed projects to put those folks on "the Ville" game only to realize in a month Sims dying off. Ville met the same end.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Start valuing engineers..you spend a lot to hire the best yet you dont listen to them. Product managers run the ship and their focus on short term returns is coming back to hurt you.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 5 people found this helpful  

    Well-compensated, and recognized at the company; killed it at the expense of my work-life balance. Unsure of its future.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Artist  in  Baltimore, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Artist in Baltimore, MD

    I worked at Zynga full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    -Compensation + generous perks. Zynga has a lot of financial resources and the ability to make Blockbuster titles. Whether they use those resources intelligently is another story. Free lunches, dinners, gym, health care, etc.
    -Opportunity for advancement - a lot of it, if you can manage to get recognized by the right people. That last sentence is key.
    -Average production cycle is a lot shorter than working in console development, which means more shipped titles in less time (if your team does it right)
    -Dynamic workforce - fairly easy to transfer within the company.
    -Has gotten better at recognizing games that won't succeed, and killing projects early. This could still use some improvement.
    -All star IT department that bends over backwards for employees.
    -Dog friendly environment usually makes it a joy to come to work (as long as the dogs on your team are well-behaved)
    -Overall, I really liked my experience with Zynga. I was lucky to be well-recognized within the company, and felt like my voice mattered and that I was contributing a lot to the projects I was on. The sense of ownership diminished substantially over the the 3.5 years that I was with the company, in part because of rapidly growing team size, and in part from the increasingly negative morale that permeated the office.

    Cons

    -If you're not a programmer, product manager, or high-ranking designer, you're a second tier citizen. The company not value each discipline equally. From a ground level, you can see this in the referral bonus drives (2x bonus modifier on getting a PM or Developer (engineer) hired versus any other discipline).
    -Hectic and disorganized. It's hard to filter the noise sometimes; games in my experience have never shipped on time; we constantly thought we were two weeks out from shipping, which meant a lot of crunch towards the launch of the project.
    -Company size has grown substantially and explosively since I started; because of the lack of organization and general chaos, I don't think we grew intelligently. This resulted in several studio closures after a very aggressive.
    -Work environment encourages politicking. Meritocracy = sometimes you get recognized for your skills and contributions, but you better make sure the right person sees it. Can be cutthroat, to the detriment of the quality of the game, as individuals plan terrible, un-fun features that maximize quick revenue but ultimately tank the game as we bleed users who can't put up with it anymore.
    -Impossible to get recognized if you're not on a succeeding project. Zynga funnels resources into its blockbuster teams, and the pool for bonuses/promotions/etc seems dependent on how well your game is doing (monetization, DAU, etc).
    -Extremely hard to get recognized at a remote branch, unless you're working a lot with people at HQ who can vouch for your talents. May be a moot point, anyways, since many remote studios were closed.
    -Cynicism, jadedness seems to have infected a good portion of the workforce; depending on your team, morale can be a bummer.
    -Thrash. A lot. There's been a ton of reorganization among upper management; I think part of it was to reduce the churn in projects to get fewer dissonant voices in on the greenlight process.
    -Tendency to let projects run on for too long, with too many resources, only to can it 9+ months later.
    -Extremely risk-adverse. "Innovation" is a joke, as every project seems to have Frankenstein'd each successful element of every previous title until games are hard to differentiate from each other and mechanics don't make sense in context; seems like stuff makes it in just to satisfy the green light checkboxes.
    -Work/life balance is what you make of it. It's easy to live at work when you get catered lunch and dinner.
    -Feature cadence on live games can get unreasonable. Your team needs to be good about recognizing when to dial it back; if you've got an aggressive General Manager who's 100% about meeting numbers, enjoy sleeping at Zynga.
    -Weird animosity between departments, depending on your team: Product Managers and Designers don't seem to get along. You should be working in tandem to make a game that is both fun and profitable, not against each other to get your way.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I think you're at a crossroads - you have the opportunity to succeed in a major way, following the successes of your former titles. But if you don't wake up and take some risks, a smaller, more agile company is going to smoke you. Get back to your roots with smaller team sizes; the huge teams are too disorganized and not everyone's able to contribute 100%. Throwing as many people as you can on a project does not make it wrap up any faster or better; recognize those diminishing margining returns and keep your teams leaner. Get over the IPO. Just, get over it and don't fret about the near-term stock price- if you start looking more towards the future.

    Or you can keep doing what you're doing; but I don't think it'll continue to work. I think the company's values aren't aligned with its employees' anymore, and you need to address that. Some of your top talent is being ignored simply because they aren't actively working on your biggest hit, and that's a shame. I'm pretty sure you can see the iceberg in the horizon - it's not too late to steer the boat in a different direction. Don't be the Titanic.

    Also: Consider reducing the swag budget. By a lot. After over three years with the company, I'm pretty sure I could go a month without doing laundry solely by how many Zynga-branded t-shirts I own.

    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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