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Anonymous threatens Zynga

The hacker group plans to act November 5 unless Zynga changes course

The notorious hacker group calling itself Anonymous has chosen Zynga as its latest target, according to a posting on, the news platform for the group. Anonymous released some "confidential" documents purportedly taken from Zynga, along with a data file supposedly containing copies of Zynga games taken from Zynga's servers. The key to the data file will be released on November 5 unless Zynga chooses to "cease immediately the plan." Anonymous has named its plan #OP MaZynga.

Zynga's secret plan, according to Anonymous, involves a layoff of 800 Zynga employees and moving all development of games to Bangalore, India, which Anonymous claims (in broken English) will "come to end of the US game market as we know it as all this jobs will be replaced in other more convenient financial countries."

The documents leaked by Anonymous include portions of two lawsuits filed against Zynga, one earlier this year and one in 2010, both of which are in the public record. The release of these documents (which are apparently scanned with handwritten highlights and marks) doesn't reveal anything that isn't already public knowledge.

The documents also included two memos supposedly from Zynga CEO Mark Pincus; one is a draft, and the other is the edited version. The draft memo looks like it was composed on a typewriter, then edited in pen. The signature block, which is identical to the signature on the edited memo, is in a different font. Apparently, we are to believe that (a) Mark Pincus composes memos on a typewriter, edits them by hand, and then signs the draft before entering it into a computer and (b) his command of the English language is at a grade-school level.

"As we speak we are planning to release also all the games we've taken from their servers for free"


The text of the memo is in broken English, reading more like a Nigerian scam email than a memo to "Dear Executive Board" should read. The text talks about "an additional cut of 800 jobs with further raising of new capital from the market to support businesses" by November 23, and ongoing work to "completely outsource our development teams in our offices in Bangalore, India to hedge our position in the long term."

None of it makes any particular sense; Zynga has no need to raise additional money with $1.6 billion in cash. You wouldn't talk about outsourcing jobs as a way to "hedge our position." You might do that to save money, but no one would expect developers in India to be able to craft better games for the US market than developers in the US could.

Finally, the threat by Anonymous to release Zynga's games for free if their demand isn't met doesn't seem like much of a threat, since the games are all free anyway. Besides, you can't play them without support from the servers. Unless there are trade secrets in the code that could be revealed by this action, the threat is ludicrous on its face.

The video posted to YouTube has been taken down, but the posting on is still acquiring comments; one of the latest is "They're f2p social games you morons." That pretty much sums up the case.

Anonymous' statement in the video, as transcribed on their web site:

'Zynga customers and Facebook users, We are anonymous. During the last few days anonymous has been targeting Zynga for the outrageous treatment of their employees and their actions against many developers.

We have come to believe that this actions of Zynga will result in massive layoff of a thousand people and legal actions against everyone that speaks to the public about this plan.

It will also come to end of the US game market as we know it as all this jobs will be replaced in other more convenient financial countries.

With a billion dollars cash sitting in a bank we do believe that such actions are an insult to the population and the behaviour of corporations like Zynga must change.

Anonymous could not allow this to happen so it's starting to release confidential documents we have leaked on this plan

As we speak we are planning to release also all the games we've taken from their servers for free.

That being said we will stop the idea of the distribution of such games if Zynga will cease immediately the plan.'

GamesIndustry International has reached out to Zynga for comment, with no response as yet.

Update: Zynga declines to comment.

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Steve Peterson avatar
Steve Peterson: Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.
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