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EA: Zynga defections were financially motivated

John Riccitiello attributes loss of senior staff to "personal balance sheet stuff"

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has described last year's high-profile employee defections to Zynga as motivated purely by financial concerns.

Speaking at the Wedbush Technology Media and Telecommunications Conference, as reported by Gamasutra, Riccitiello addressed the list of senior EA employees who now work for the social gaming giant - a list that includes former COO John Schappert.

"To a person, they came and saw me at one point in the process, usually in tears or close to tears, with a story that basically goes like this. 'I love my company. I love Electronic Arts. I bleed blue, but they're going to give me a bank account in the first 12 or 24 months that I couldn't get anywhere and may never get anywhere for the rest of my life,'" he said

"So it was more about personal balance sheet stuff. To a person, they've told me - and I think if you speak to them, would probably say they believe in the Electronic Arts story and sort of where it's going. So I don't feel at all weakened by it. ... They got some good guys, and I think we're fine."

Other EA staff to leave for Zynga last year include social executive Barry Cottle, EA Play VP Jeff Karp, and EA Tiburon veterans Mark Turmell and Steven Chiang.

However, in November last year EA's head of human resources, Gabrielle Toledano, told the New York Times that EA expected an exodus away from Zynga soon after it went public.

According to Toledano, Zynga has a reputation for treating talent as a commodity, which will make it difficult to hold on to senior employees once their stock options become liquid.

"Competitors will make the case that they offer much more compelling opportunities for creative people," she said. "We've learned that when companies treat talent as a commodity, the consequences are severe. It takes years to repair a reputation."

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Latest comments (3)

Private Industry 4 years ago
I thought people go to Zynga to work on innovative games.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 4 years ago
Is there some reason why people should want to sacrifice money in order to work on creative games? He seems to be suggesting that these people are not acting with integrity unless they are *not* making a lot of money for their work. Doesn't make sense to me. THEY are the ones making the games - THEY should get the lion's share of the income for that.
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Private Industry 4 years ago
I wouldnt be surprised that Zynga pays more than a games company. I cant imagine developing their stuff to cost a lot so should be a much higher ratio of development cost versus income from the product and therefore more money that can be spent on wages. Zynga seems to make a lot of money but how expensive can it be to make a new building for farmville and how much do they charge the player?

If I would work in a different field than games I would get a lot more if you work i.e non gaming software or even gambling. Some products might not make an insane amount of money but they are cheaper to produce than games and offer more profit for the amount invested.
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