Zynga CEO Admits to Being a Scammer

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Kiefer13:
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.

\o *High five* But I do feel bad for the 3 or so people I got unwittingly hooked.(Damn mail this to 10 friends access spam, which turned me off of playing it. HAHAHA)

Anyway, in a Machiavellian way, he's still right. he's competing in a Capitalist economu...so Greed is good. Poor people are lazy /and/o stupid. He deserves evry dime.

I didn't play because my Nigerian scam sense tingled. I'm not stupid enough to pay RL money for virtual goods.

Anyone want to buy mail order bride? Very obedient. Low mileage. She love you longtime. Forward this to ten friends, or you go flacid for month.

]:D-

Wow, what an arse!
I hope he gets put in jail or, probably worse for a greedy guy like him; a huuuuge fine :@

Vim-Hogar:
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.

That is why these companies will fail. You do not succeed as an upstart business through frivolous spending.

thebobmaster:

Leroy Frederick:
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.

Hey, not all TV is like that. As long as Ninja Warrior exists, there will always be hope.

True, there is the odd thing worth watching on TV, but less and less so with each passing year it seems :(

I don't play FarmVille or Mafia Wars anyway. I sneer at my friends and family who play it, thinking to myself, "What wannabe gamers."

That gives me a good idea for a t-shirt...

..."Real Gamers Don't Play FarmVille" heh heh heh...

I never trust something like this, but I generally despise people who misuse peoples trust, since it breeds a paranoid and distrustful mindset in the population.

People aren't stupid because they put trust in you. You're just a bastard for abusing them.

Haven't played Farmville. Is it like Harvest Moon?

lol, I cheated the system.

I used my school computers to fill out a survey for some bonus points in Mafia Wars. I made an e-mail address which I never check, used it when I filled out a survey, put a fake name, and used the school's address. I got my points, and my computer was safe. The school has a very interesting system for their computers. It's as if they re-format every night.

I knew it was a scam when I first looked at it, which is why I didn't use my own computer for it.

I got my free points AND the scammers got an address and a phone number.

I didn't even use the school's phone number, I used a rejection number.

I can admit that I as an addict. I would play until I had to go to school. I was a level 150something, I had about 300 people on my MySpace just for Mafia Wars adds. I had it bad. One day I just decided that I cannot keep doing this to myself anymore because it was taking away from my time to play REAL video games. I went into my settings, removed Mafia Wars, deleted my Mafia Wars adds, and since then have only loaded it up once, and that was to see if I was truly over my problem. I won. I looked at that screen and said, "I don't have to play you anymore. You will not take my time."

Onyx Oblivion:
Haven't played Farmville. Is it like Harvest Moon?

No.

Country Story by Playfish is almost a carbon copy though.

I'm gonna turn the "I haven't got any social networking profiles" smugness-o-metre up another notch.

*Beams irritatingly*

I saw all of those scams before when the Wii, 360 and PS3 came out. They all said if you fill out a survey and tell 10 people, your console would arrive in the mail within a couple of weeks. Obviously that wasn't happening for people, so I put two and two together and did the apparent smart thing. It sucks so many people fall for that crap. I can't imagine how many kids infected their parents computers. I suppose since I have my own computer essential to my computer science schooling, I am far more catious than I normally would be.

orangeapples:
lol, I cheated the system.

I used my school computers to fill out a survey for some bonus points in Mafia Wars. I made an e-mail address which I never check, used it when I filled out a survey, put a fake name, and used the school's address. I got my points, and my computer was safe. The school has a very interesting system for their computers. It's as if they re-format every night.

I knew it was a scam when I first looked at it, which is why I didn't use my own computer for it.

I got my free points AND the scammers got an address and a phone number.

I didn't even use the school's phone number, I used a rejection number.

I can admit that I as an addict. I would play until I had to go to school. I was a level 150something, I had about 300 people on my MySpace just for Mafia Wars adds. I had it bad. One day I just decided that I cannot keep doing this to myself anymore because it was taking away from my time to play REAL video games. I went into my settings, removed Mafia Wars, deleted my Mafia Wars adds, and since then have only loaded it up once, and that was to see if I was truly over my problem. I won. I looked at that screen and said, "I don't have to play you anymore. You will not take my time."

You, sir, are my hero. One day I hope to scam scammers and break addictions as thoroughly as you do.

HardRockSamurai:
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.

A statement of fact is not, in and of itself worthy of mention. But keep in mind we live in a world where the truth is subjective and facts need only include points that support your opinion. The games spoken of are hardly games at all and quite obviously exist primarily as a mechanism to get me to click on the various offers of the day. If you go so far as to lie about the purpose of this software (it does not exist to entertain but rather gently nudge you in the direction of fulfilling the sponser offers), to suddenly tell the truth about your business model is a revelation worthy of a moment's consideration.

By any means necessary is a mantra that is difficult to support and equally difficult to argue against. Can I state that I would not do the same? Certainly not - there are plenty of products aimed at people who don't know any better. Hell, exploiting the ignorant is the cornerstone of the American economy. But once you admit your goal is to fleece people and give almost nothing in return, I tend to be less forgiving. It is a strange state of affiars I suppose - I recognize that it exists, I know why it exists, but when someone actually tells me they engage in such activities it's hard to fathom. I guess I'm less comfortable when you put a human face on the exploitation of the masses than I am when it's a corporate logo.

Great, and I just got addicted to the Zynga roller-coaster game too. Well, here's hoping that my computer doesn't get pummeled by spyware and adware and all that nonsense.

The_root_of_all_evil:
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.

I thought the british dream was to have an enjoyable conversation about politics and the weather over tea and biscuits, well its my dream anyway so im living the dream oh yeah.

also on topic i just have to say wow what a dick. sure some companies have scammed people but the executives dont run out onto a stage and basically say "i scammed you, you slags im rich as shit now suck it you absolute bunch of tossers."

Then again this is the guy who makes those Mafia wars, Mob wars ect games.

Dipstick takes a picture of a car like the Ghostbuster Ecto one, then sells it for "favor points" which you can get little in normal play OR you can get some giving him real money.

He makes a new object every week and someone some where BUYS these with real money. It's like DLC crack.

Now other games need to learn this. Like making a WOW sword you can only get by handing them a extra 20 bucks....can we say cha ching? I knew we could.

While most people will say "Well, duh. This /is/ the internet." I disagree with that blanket philosophy. Sure, this is the internet and yes there are slimeball people out there. But why is this kind of scamming behavior considered the norm rather than the exception?

There are countless of online communities and game developers out there that manage to not only put out a fantastic product but also make money.... AND they do it without being sleazy! StarPirates.net is just one of a thousand different browser games on the market... but they have managed to build a very dedicated player base without having to scam people. They've done it without having to spam people. They've managed to do this without filling their pages with advertisements.

And while you don't see news articles and hullaballoo about all the ethical games like StarPirates.... the crap that Zynga causes still has a direct affect on them.

Hopefully, all the good games can weather this kind of crap storm without damage.

I've seriously wanted to hurt this guy for a while now, ever since I heard about how proud he was about it. It's like the guy who invented spam bragging about how rich he got, never mind the actual harm these people have done. Be it almost destroying a communications medium (spam and email, something like 80% of all email sent is spam) or ripping off people who think a site is safe.

Speaking as a tech savvy person, someone who has worked in IT for almost a decade, most of that dealing with customer machines, generally spyware/virus infections, and now that I'm out of that hell... this bastard drags me back in.

In my family I'm the go-to-guy for computer issues, that aunt who never speaks to me at family dinners? yet she plays FarmIdiot and now has spyware all over her machine and I get to go in once a week to fix it... because she refuses to accept that the offers are scams. That cousin who smalls of pot all the time? yep, he plays Mafia wars... So I get to spend hours removing the new variant of whateverspyware, that just happens to not be removed by my current removal tool... so hunt hunt... nope no instructions or automated tool! time for the registry diving... god the pain... the suffering... the annoying relos hanging over my shoulder asking if I'm done yet.

Ugg... this guy... I'd like to meet him in a dark ally one night. FaceBook should do something about this crap as well, they aren't blame free.

I like that when a small company is scamming people, they get fans. But when a big company is scamming people, FLAME ON!

Did he do anything illegal?

If he didn't, I hope the housewifes playing FB multiplayer games have learned their lesson,

All the zynga games from farmville to mafia wars to poker to vampire wars to yoville are full of glitches cheats and problems and they have the worst customer support EVER.

Zynga is nothing but a Black Sheep in the eyes of real game players

All facebook applications also grain access to your personal information.
Think about it.

Epic Necropost.

Good job entering them in March Mayhem to all you escapist staff.

I'm gonna say I play all Zynga games all the time... this doesn't surprise me but who really is to blame here? Zynga who put these things on the page with the notification that they don't endorse them or the LOSERS who can't tell a ligit offer from a blatantly obvious scam? Have they not heard if it seems too good to be true it probably is. I don't feel sorry for you. You had the choice to NOT enter your details and level up the normal way!!!

Desiree Boyd:
I'm gonna say I play all Zynga games all the time... this doesn't surprise me but who really is to blame here?

Gonna go off on a limb here and say .. Zynga.

It's quite simple really.

It's not just this guy who's scamming naive FB users... many game FB applications have those click here for more blah, blah's on their page... it is a shame that so many people are taken 'in' by this type of thing... but there have been many reports on tv, radio, newspapers, online about these types of scams, it's sad that people are still getting sucked in... if this guy get's sued, he could just as well transfer ownership of his business / assets and file for bankruptcy so the complainants get nada... what he's done is ridiculous & down right greedy...

Thanks for putting zynga into the contest Escapist.

Shame on you! You should know that the ends do not justify the means! Shame, shame, shame.

Scamming to get start-up money is wrong. Scamming is wrong period. He should be ashamed.

In order[for me] to succeed, you must fail... He made bank on this mentality, I can't fault him.

Tom Goldman:
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)

Permalink

Sheesh...thanks for reporting this.

And to think so many people didn't understand why I thought Zynga had very little place being on the March Mayhem list. It's because they're unethical pricks, that's why and this story just gives us some pudding with proof in it, if you can forgive me torturing the figure of speech a little.

Well that's unpleasant. Though I fail to see why the guy openly admitted all the horrible scamming he was doing, and then promised not to do it anymore because it had gone public. Is he really so stupid that as the words were coming out of his mouth he did not realize they would not be taken well?

What an asshole.

He should be sued and jailed since this is borderline stealing private information.

ElephantGuts:
Well that's unpleasant. Though I fail to see why the guy openly admitted all the horrible scamming he was doing, and then promised not to do it anymore because it had gone public. Is he really so stupid that as the words were coming out of his mouth he did not realize they would not be taken well?

He seems to have this arrogant attitude that really lives up the worst of the capitalist stereotype in which everything is okay to do so long as it makes you excessive amounts of money.

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