Zynga employees review their own game

Zynga have been responsible for some of the biggest online games recently, using relatively simple concepts and achieving success other developers could only dream of having. Their portfolio of games reads like a list of Facebook's most popular games, including FarmVille and CityVille. Getting to the top is an uphill struggle but it seems Zynga have the best idea of how to maintain their dominance: why wait for users to review the game when you can do it yourself?

As TouchArcade reports, this is exactly the approach Zynga has taken with Dream Heights. The game is a clone of NimbleBit's Tiny Towers, but given the strength of Zynga as a brand it likely was destined for more success. Customer reviews on the iTunes Store show that people are aware of what concept Zynga has shamelessly stolen this time, apart from a handful of five-star reviews.

The second review might raise a few eyebrows in particular. How many reviewers consider everything in a developer's backlog a masterpiece? Stating that it's a must-play from the company might be fine, but stating it and then praising the company some more looks odd. Then you have the fact both reviews were published on the same day. John Lerma just so happens to be Zynga's Senior User Experience Designer, while Matthew Ott is a Zynga Producer.

In the words of an internet meme... "seems legit". When a major company rips off an indie developer and then passes it off as their own work, it is difficult to justify. When they do so, and then praise their own app, they're setting themselves up for a real fall. Zynga have managed to do both, masterfully, with two sentence-length reviews.

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The fundamental problem is that these are not honest reviews. Zynga is using reviews to boost their own stats, possibly leading to more purchases so they have a clear agenda. Sure, competitors could use the same system to give bad reviews but again this would be poor business ethics.

PS. Neowin, can you please fix this thing so that logging in from an article's comments returns you back to the comments instead of the forum index.

As a developer I already experience much prejudice in everything. I am not allowed to take part in market research, whenever I voice my opinion in a survey it is thrown away as an outlier, I am not allowed to leave reviews on Yelp (they get auto-filtered), and I'm prohibited from many contests. Outraging over this sort of thing is stupid. You created something and can't leave a positive review for it?

Yes I realize it was stolen but this sort of thing is commonplace everywhere in the world. You think company owners never leave themselves good reviews on google maps? Get real.

I have NO problem with what they did. They are both in smart tech positions and KNOW that their name shows up. It'd be different if they were using an alter ego and posting, but they're not hiding anything. Give them a break.

So if I develop a game and enjoy playing it, you're suggesting I shouldn't give it a decent review, . . . even though I find it decent? That implication seems odd to me. There's nothing wrong with having pride in your work, if you truly believe it's good.

Callum said,
So if I develop a game and enjoy playing it, you're suggesting I shouldn't give it a decent review, . . . even though I find it decent? That implication seems odd to me. There's nothing wrong with having pride in your work, if you truly believe it's good.

But the fact that you developed it automatically means its a biased review. Would you go out and tell the world that your game stinks? Think not.

The Gunslinger said,

But the fact that you developed it automatically means its a biased review. Would you go out and tell the world that your game stinks? Think not.


Most people wouldn't, no. But it's important to remember that the developers are often users, so suggesting they shouldn't review a product merely because they developed it is unreasonable.

I see nothing wrong in *thinking* my creations are the best thing since sliced bread... Maybe using phrases to promote them.

It's an entirely different thing to review my own stuff using a system that takes an average of reviews, and knowing that it can be a deciding factor to potential customers.

It's just like the link farms and completely over-the-top things people do to position their websites (instead of focusing on the content).

Oh no! Developers reviewing their games! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

What happened to confidence in their own product?

Isn't the whole idea of having reviews is that they are an independent and unbiased opinion?

Of course it happens, but when a game is getting terrible reviews by the majority of users then a couple pop-up that are glowing then they are found out to be the developers that cannot be right.

If they are getting terrible reviews change the game, don't change the reviews.

Andrew Lyle said,
I would give my own game a positive review.. so what.

True, but normally people would offer full disclosure of any conflict of interests before promoting and endorsing their product.