Z is for Zynga

By Ned Donovan on March 28th, 2014

Out of all the companies you hate without realising, one of the biggest names has to be Zynga. The evil genius behind such terrible, yet addictive games like Farmville is, or at least was, a force to be reckoned with.

Zynga’s games use a simple model: waiting. You can, without paying, execute a certain number of actions, but then you’re forced to wait a length of time before you can continue playing. Many who became addicted to their virtual farms or poker hands ended up forking out real money to the developers to let them get their fix faster. The games also caused a horrible problem on social networks where every single Farmville player was sharing their actions to all of their friends and followers.

Many will remember the endless notifications such as “James Cook has found a sheep”, or “Will you help Jeremy Wilson pick strawberries?”, all terrible intrusions into our lives that many didn’t know how to turn off. At one point, Farmville had 10 million daily active users and most of the most popular games came from Zynga. They were seen as heralding the future of online games, and when they went public, it seemed to be true. But now Zynga stock (NASDAQ: ZNGA) languishes at just under $5, a far cry from its record at nearly $15 per share.

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While Zynga may have its glory days behind them, the legacy lives on. Now it is hard to find a game for iOS or Facebook that doesn’t contain microtransactions or waiting periods. The horror of Pay to Play has also migrated to more traditional games on consoles and PCs, and while you may have forgotten Farmville, your dragons on Dragonvale certainly haven’t.