Zynga CEO Admits to Being a Scammer

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Zynga CEO Admits to Being a Scammer

Zynga, the company behind Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, was built on scams and spyware.

In a recent video uploaded by TechCrunch, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus reveals that he willingly scammed players of Facebook games to build his company. "I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away," says Pinkus. If you've ever played one of Zynga's games, you should be familiar with the offers that can be completed to earn extra in-game cash. Yes, those are mostly scams.

Pinkus even jokes about having players install software that was hard to remove. "I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I dont know, I downloaded it once and couldn't get rid of it," which led to laughs by the crowd he was speaking to. Sure, it is kind of humorous, but in essence Pinkus was taking advantage of Facebook users that probably weren't savvy enough to realize what they were doing. The revenue generated allowed Pinkus to gain more control over his company, but I hate to think of how many people have been hurt in the process. Even more awfully, Pinkus actually seems to be recommending an "any means necessary" attitude to the crowd, not ashamed at all about his actions.

The offers Pinkus is speaking of usually have people give away their addresses, mobile phone numbers, and sometimes much more as some are tied to health or car insurance quotes. Some are Netflix trials, while others have you complete meaningless quizzes and follow them up with attempts to get you to enroll in legions of obvious scams. TechCrunch even postulates that Facebook gaming became so profitable so fast due to these scams alone, which allow companies like Zynga to put way more into advertising than other, more legitimate Facebook videogame developers that have been struggling to get attention.

The Zynga CEO has since vowed to remove these scams, because he got publicly caught no doubt, and indeed they seem to have been removed from at least FarmVille. In the future, if you're dying for more cash to buy a videogame item, it's probably best not to download the "zwinky toolbar." The full TechCrunch article detailing Zynga's scamming is available here.

(Via: Consumerist)

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I support that "any means necessary" attitude. Why? Because too many people are too afraid to do anything.

Well, that is definitly a dirty marketing campaign right there. Granted he succeded, but whatever happened to your parents saying "Hard Work and Dedication" are the keys to success.

Heh, I went to a hiring info session they had at my school, it was quite interesting. Apparently they refer to promotions as "leveling up", and they seem to have the sort of "we make huge amounts of money, we can do ridiculous things" attitude you don't see much these days. For example, when the Mafia Wars team hit some milestone, the CEO spur-of-the-moment decided to send the whole team to Vegas for the weekend. Some other team bought one of those big inflatable bouncy castles; apparently the original intention was to somehow make it the entryway to their office area.

A company that makes multiplayer facebook games admits to being a SCAMMER?

That's like if a lobster admitted that it has pincers, or if a shoe admitted that it was a shoe.

I always suspected there was something not quite right about those Facebook games. And I seem to be one of the only people I know that doesn't play any of them. Ha.

Wat a fucking tool. Brb uninstalling Mafia Wars.

Farmville is great!!

I found a lost cow!

Not really surprised...because I know the difference between a ligit program and spyware...

Yet another reason not to bother with those things. Along with "I'm addicted to far too many things already" (dangblastit, Final Fantasy VI!) and "If I want to manage my own farm, I'll buy Harvest Moon. If I want to indulge in virtual gang warfare, I'll play Saints Row 2."

wow that was fast

this must be the first time a company has gone from "shit, bullshit and double-shit" to "yea we rip people off and make a killing" in under a week.

I may sound cold but people falling for those scams get what they deserve a lot of them were very obvious, though on that scale he should also have more than a slap on the wrists

kinda glad i never played any of those stupid games

Awsome thing about internet Scams?

Only idiots fall for them, and stimulates the economy. *thumb*
_____________

I thought all online games that ask to you to take surveys and stuff were considered scams by default >_>

So far I'm 100% correct :D *Gives self a medal*

LeonHellsvite:
I may sound cold but people falling for those scams get what they deserve a lot of them were very obvious, though on that scale he should also have more than a slap on the wrists

Wouldn't you trust a game that Facebook endorses? I mean, you trust Facebook with personal pictures and friends and possibly personal information. It doesn't seem too far a stretch that one would expect Facebook to not allow scammers to profit from their website.

But I guess you'd be wroooooooooooooooooong.

Wow this guy and Bobby I am starting to gain some respect for the people behind the industry again. It is nice to see at least 2 guys out there without the brown stain on the tips of thier noses. At least they have the decency to whisper thier names in our ears. Who knows maybe the next guy will even spring for dinner or offer up some lube.

And no-one ACTUALLY realised this? If I'm ever desperate enough (yes, I do go on Facebook, yes, please laugh at me, and yes, take that last comment seriously) to click on one of those things, there is a checklist for it.
1. Definitely Not Farmville in anyway
2. Read the fine print (Credit awarded after you fill in full mobile phone number/deposit $20/accept two offers that end up costing money anyway)
3. Never believe the free offers -- they never are.

Dusty Pancakes:
And no-one ACTUALLY realised this? If I'm ever desperate enough (yes, I do go on Facebook, yes, please laugh at me, and yes, take that last comment seriously) to click on one of those things, there is a checklist for it.
1. Definitely Not Farmville in anyway
2. Read the fine print (Credit awarded after you fill in full mobile phone number/deposit $20/accept two offers that end up costing money anyway)
3. Never believe the free offers -- they never are.

I agree with you completely. Personally, I have a Myspace, but they also have Zynga apps. They give you worthless items for $20, but if they bold FREE! people swarm over the offer without reading the little letters at the bottom.

Every game on Facebook has these "offers", and I have always known they where scams. So I haven't used any of them. I still use a few games in questions, 'cause I have nothing better to do while surfing the web.
So I thought it was common knowledge that they where built on scams...

And it is really funny to read the forums for two rivaling games. Like FarmVille and FarmTown. Both sides accuse the other of ripping the other one of and stuff. It's hilarious. Those forums also prove that 99.9% of those who play those games aren't gamers, and has no clue how things work in the gaming world. It is a reason almost every Facebook game has the status of "beta"...

Its a marketing strategy that paid off. It would be worse if he tried to deny it all and reel off some garbage about how he acts only on the consumer's behalf but its nice to see someone just admit to these things.
As stated above frequently; its blatantly obvious they're scams, and for those that did somehow fall for them then at least they may come off a bit wiser now.

I just generally stay the fuck away from Facebook, browser games and any other of these social network thingies. Cept Quake Live, of course.

Wow, people still falls for these stupid scams huh? I know this sounds awful but I'm alright with that, these jerks don't deserve praise or anything but if people fell for it then that's on them. Except the spyware that's just low and unacceptable.
I'm glad I don't waste my time with these crappy browser games. That's another hit to casual gamers but they will learn one day.

This is why I can't understand the appeal of Farmville, if i want to play games I have an Xbox for that. Plus i don't trust browser games like that, you never know what they will do.

All right, well, I expected that people who are using the internet are already suspicious of anything that asks them to install "toolbars", but it seems that all kinds of people use Facebook and some of them really don't know, uhm, stuff. Zynga are indeed a nasty bunch, I'd expect such a high profile network to have some restrictions regarding spyware and scamming, but apparently they don't really care. I do play many Zynga games but have never paid for anything, since their prices are so laughably high that I am not quite sure what their target audience is.

You know what..back almost a year ago..I did one of these "offers" on Mafia something or other and I was going to join Netflix and Blockbuster anyways..so why not get something out of it?
I ended up canceling netflix because the local Blockbuster takes the blockbuster online DVDs and I can exchange them for anything short of a game rental.

Currently I'm paying $21.19 to Blockbuster for 3 discs at a time(unlimited exchanges in store) and once a month coupon to print out (it used to be 3 coupons..2 rentals*games included* and either a buy 2-get 1 free previously viewed or $5 off a previously viewed)

I did spend $5 through paypal and got some godfather points..but as far as games go..I've spent more and received less in other games (I'm looking at you SOF Payback)

and no matter for how many points in any myspace or facebook game or app..Im not touching that guys zwinky.

i KNEW something was wrong with those programs...they just popped up at such the right times for it to have to be not legal..well in this case not ethical i guess...dam Zynga u could have been cool....major fail on the ethics department i say

you know what they say you dont get anywhere in business without stepping on a few heads first.

Why is anybody suprised by this? Of course they are scams look at them? ANybody who clicks on a link offering free things should have ther head examined. It reminds me of those of "Your our 1,000,000th" visitor ad's lool

Serious giveteh man some credit he built a very profitable business off the stupidity of others. The malware is not cool, but anybody who buys farm coins with real money, well the old adage " a fool and his money are soon parted".

This is what we need as a glowing example to all wannabe millionaires. You don't have to mess up peoples (customers at that) computers to get paid.

There's a difference between bootstrapping / hustling (using some software over it's 30 day period and buying it as soon as you can afford it) and being a dishonest douche-bag (allowing people to install stuff that messed up your own computer). Thumbs down on aspects of this.

EDIT: Farmville is a journey of spam in itself by the way, absolute rubbish.

Ah, The American Dream. Built on stealing from others.

The UK Dream is much simpler, to appear on X-Factor.

Personally, I think they're both nightmares.

Yes, X Factor sucks too and gets worster with every iteration and is filled with annoying people, that's TV nowadays. Long live the internet.

I hope this guy gets shot in the balls someday by a rock from a trebuchet.

I never play browser games thankfully, except from our very own genre wars, but not many people play it anymore.

Why didn't he get sued for this?

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