Zynga Haters Are Piling Up

Is Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) in the gaming business or just in that of making money? The idea that Zynga bought OMGPOP, the maker of the uber-popular “Draw Something” app, not for the talents of its engineering team or to add to its creative portfolio but for the leverage in its secondary public offering, is gaining credence, and people aren’t happy.

“An evil company is trying to get rich quick, and has no regard for the harm they’re doing along the way,” Shay Pierce, an OMGPOP engineer who decided not to join Zynga after the March 21 takeover, wrote in a widely-read blog post. Pierce, who was not directly involved in creating Draw Something, added that Zynga’s “values are completely opposed to my own values, professionally and creatively” and that it is “destructive to the healthy functioning” of the gaming ecosystem.

Zynga has struggled with its image as an organization that doesn’t attract the best creative talent, but often clones games of other developers. The makers of the game Tiny Tower had earlier accused Zynga of stealing their own ideas to create its Dream Heights game. “Even when you refuse to go work for Zynga, sometimes you end up doing work for Zynga anyway,” the Tiny Tower makers, Nimblebit, wrote on Twitter in January. Nimblebit turned down an offer to be taken over by the San Francisco-based Zynga last year.

Criticism also came from the fact that founder Mark Pincus was not a game designer to start with.

Zynga has tried hard to change its image, recently hiring experienced game designers and creating original games such as FrontierVille, Empires & Allies, and CastleVille.

One thing that has not gone Zynga’s way since its $180 million acquisition of OMGPOP is the popularity of Draw Something. A report says the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad version of the game has dropped out of the top-ten game downloads, falling from first place just last week to No. 12. It was at the sixth spot when the deal was struck on March 21. It has also slid down in the iPhone app rankings, though only by one spot. Rovio’s Angry Birds Space, released last week, is on top, with 20 million downloads already.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aabha Rathee at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com