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A Note from Dan Porter

by on March 8, 2013

At Zynga we pride ourselves on transparency and want to share an email from Dan Porter, GM of Zynga New York, clarifying some recent remarks he made during a speaking event. Please find his note, posted in its entirety, below.

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Hello Zynga,

Some of you have seen in the press that I supposedly said Zynga copies games. I was very surprised when the article came out because it was a misrepresentation of what I said at a small talk about the future of gaming and where I talked mostly about wearable gaming and ramification of everyday events.

I am sorry that my actions have reflected negatively and generated negative press for the company. I’m also sorry if anyone on the game creation side felt that my comments were somehow a discredit to their work.

What I actually said was that all games are derived from other games, that this has been happening long before Zynga, and that the debate about originality in games is vastly overblown and misses the mark. Before making Draw Something we ran OMGPOP for four years and made lots of games that were inspired by games we loved and we emulated the mechanics from games with great UI. This is no great revelation.

The bigger point that I made, one that was overshadowed, goes to the true genius of Zynga. After making games for years, it was joining Zynga that made me understand the art, science and special sauce running games as a service. When someone on the ZNY team came back from spending two weeks with Bill Allred and the WWF team and schooled us on all best practices of keeping a game popular for four years, I really started to get it. It’s been a huge learning experience.

I was at the all hands. I saw all those game demos. There is great stuff in the pipeline. I really do believe that Zynga is the best in the world at creating and socializing games, and running the as a service that people love. Ultimately that is the huge factor in what makes Zynga a sustaining company.

So when I spoke to this group, I told them what I truly believe: the debate over copying games is a distraction if you are trying to figure out the future of social games; what matters is the ability to run those games as a service. But I also know that is a nuanced point and isn’t quite as sexy a headline. I should know better. Lesson learned. Sometimes it is truly better to say nothing at all.

I have responded and clarified my points directly to the reporter who posted the original story, but I wanted to let all of you know how I feel about our company and what I meant. We’re also posting this note on our company blog shortly. Again, I apologize that my well-intentioned points did not reflect well on the company and all of you.

Dan

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