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Zynga: We define innovation differently

CEO Mark Pincus responds to perception of company as a copycat publisher

Zynga's been accused of ripping off game ideas before, sometimes in public, and sometimes in court. Speaking at Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored Conference in San Francisco yesterday, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus responded to an audience member's question about how it decides whether to innovate or clone features in its games.

"Our company defines innovation differently than other companies," Pincus explained. "We define innovation differently than the whole game industry does. And sometimes that's been at odds. For us, innovation is about making games more accessible, more social, more fun, and feeling more free. Giving you more value for your time and sometimes your money. As a result, we don't define innovation by whether or not our Words With Friends game looks different enough from Scrabble. We think it's an innovative game because it has connected tens of millions of people together."

He went on to explain that the company puts features into three categories during development: Proven, Proven But Improvable, and New. Pincus said that as with any company, Zynga must balance its approach. If it pursued nothing but new things, it would be too heavy in R&D and carry too much risk. And if it didn't try new things, its games wouldn't be differentiated in the market so nobody would have a reason to play them.

The real measure of how well the company innovates, according to Pincus, can be seen in "how many happy players we've generated and how social they are with each other."

Zynga currently runs four of the top 10 apps on Facebook, according to AppData. The company's FarmVille 2 is the most popular app on the social network at the moment, boasting 60.6 million monthly active users.

[Via Business Insider]

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Latest comments (16)

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters4 years ago
Did he actually keep a straight face while saying this too?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
They can't even define innovation correctly.

That explains a lot.
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Emperors old clothes......
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Show all comments (16)
Jason Pullara Podcaster 4 years ago
Man, I knew you had to be a lying asshole to impress investors, but the amount of bullshit required to get into the investor cycle is something even I can't bring myself to spew forth.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Pullara on 10th November 2012 4:54pm

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we don't define innovation by whether or not our Words With Friends game looks different enough from Scrabble. We think it's an innovative game because it has connected tens of millions of people together."
DO you need to have a certain IQ quotient to be a investor to swallow this....
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
When a musician is taken to court for plagiarism, their defence isn't usually based on whether their derivative work has made them more money.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Given that the dictionary definition of Innovation is
1: the introduction of something new
2: a new idea, method, or device

considering Zynga's more derivative (as in not innovative) offerings, at least the title of the post is accurate. I'd say... ;^P
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Hey - lets move the pixel 1 pixel left and one pixel up and then one pixel right. Thats transformative indeed :)
Innovative technology at its newest!
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 4 years ago
"Our company defines innovation differently than other companies,"

Yes and the dictionary defines it differently to Zynga.

innovation (ˌɪnəˈveɪʃən)

n
1. something newly introduced, such as a new method or device
2. the act of innovating

inno'vational

adj

inno'vationist

n
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
This is an entertaining article to open up my Monday with. :')
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"We think it's an innovative game because it has connected tens of millions of people together"

Popularity is not a measure of innovation. We define innovation 'inaccurately', should be the title.
I do admire Zynga's success, I really do. I personally just am not overly keen on the methods used to get there.
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In a parody of Dodgeball's tenets;
assimilate, accumulate, a-nnovate (see what I did there. no? never mind), absorb, and a (o)-bliviate
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters4 years ago
From http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-09-08/news/farmvillains/ :
"I don't fucking want innovation," the ex-employee recalls Pincus saying. "You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."
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Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games4 years ago
"Giving you more value for your time"

Reminds me of Jon Blow's speeches

edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqFu5O-oPmU

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Mac-Donald on 12th November 2012 4:36pm

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innovate |ˈinəˌvāt|
verb [ no obj. ]
make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products: the company's failure to diversify and innovate competitively.
[ with obj. ] introduce (something new, esp. a product): innovating new products, developing existing ones.

He apparently defies dictionary definitions too.
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Steve Nicholls Programmer 4 years ago
I like the fact that he seems to believe his own bulls##t. The guy is a joke as is his clone factory company.
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