Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Turning Down Zynga

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 29, 2012

Going indie isn’t easy. Staying indie isn’t, either. This article at Gamasutra brought a tear to my eye. Well, almost.  Okay, maybe not, but it was still pretty cool.

So this dude’s company hits the big time, and gets bought out by a fabulously wealthy game publisher known for… well, known for being kinda nasty.  But with it comes a contract requirement to give up on all things indie, and working for a company that he personally considers… well, kinda ‘evil,’  Shay Pierce had to make a hard decision:

Turning Down Zynga: Why I Left After the $210M Omgpop Buy

An excerpt:

“It’s not easy to pass up a lucrative salary and solid benefits, of course. But I realized that ultimately I was letting myself be guided by simple inertia. I was part of a herd, and that herd was all going in one direction (and doing so with great urgency). I would really only be doing it for the sake of going with the flow, and responding to pressure to either conform to corporate expectations, or be left behind.

“These are not good reasons to join a company whose values are the opposite of your own, or to compromise your ideals, or to give up control of something you rightfully own. “

It’s easy to be an idealist when you’ve got nothing to loose. But when it’s a good, steady job with a well-heeled company with nice benefits versus unemployment in a down economy with a little game that has already proven incapable of earning much money… well, that’s a bit tougher. Shay explains that he is not an idealist. Not only has he accepted money from Zynga in the past, he would have been willing to compromise if Zynga had been willing to budge on the indie game thing. But he chose to be unemployed, the sole member of the team to turn down the lucrative offer. I doubt Zynga will notice his absence. And he was doing it with his eyes open. He’d done the indie games thing and knew quite well that the road wasn’t paved with gold. But it was the principle of the thing.

Unlike the movies, in real life you don’t usually get a celebratory montage, parade, or win the girl for sticking with your principles. You get sleepless nights wondering if you made the right decision, and sometimes economic or other forms of hardship.

Being an indie takes sacrifice.  You don’t do something like this without giving up something – principally time and money.  Whether it’s a sixteen-year-old giving up a few hours of television each week to crank out an Angry Birds clone for the iPhone in her bedroom, or it’s a small team of believers mortgaging their homes and professional reputations to work full-time on a dream … I have a lot of respect for these folks. And doing that AND sticking up for one’s principles? Very commendable.

I hope this isn’t the last we hear from this guy.

Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 6 Comments to Read

  • Monsieur Eek! said,

    Hear, hear! That was a great read, and I wish Shay all the best.

  • hexagonstar said,

    Kudos to Shay! The world needs more people like him! After reading this I went off and bought Connectrode (in turn I don’t own any Zynga game!)

  • hexagonstar said,

    Eventually OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter reveals what kind of assholes they really are, check out his Tweets … http://twitpic.com/941uuz

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Sounds like he’ll fit in quite well…

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    To his credit, he publicly apologized for what he’d said, offering “no excuses” for saying it. While I’d give him some credit for doing so, I think his original statements still speak volumes about his character.

  • hexagonstar said,

    Yup I’ve read his apology letter sent to some popular website but the excuse sounds lame to me. Because the work was oh so stressful and everybody on the team gave everything blah blah. That just wont cut it as an apology. As a CEO you just don’t badmouth others like that, especially not on Twitter.

    Seems like indeed he fits right in with Zynga.