I am excited that Steven Chiang, a veteran of the video game industry who is strongly regarded for building high-quality games and scaling development teams and operations worldwide, has joined zynga.
Steve brings a unique combination of start-up entrepreneurship with @scale game management to his role as president of our game studios.
Steve helped invent the console gaming business and his deep expertise will allow us to double down and deliver on the promise of social gaming.
A little about Steve.
Steve has 17 years of game experience, of which he spent the last 15 at Electronic Arts. At EA, he was most recently the senior vice president and group general manager for EA SPORTS where he oversaw the Madden NFL series, one of the all-time bestselling video game franchises in North America.
Under his tenure, EA SPORTS developed many of its most popular and highest rated sports titles including NCAA Football, FIFA Soccer, NHL and NBA Live, titles millions of people play daily. In the online space, Steve worked with the teams to re-launch EASPORTS.com and create Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online.
Steve was a co-founder of Tiburon Entertainment which was acquired by EA in 1998. Steve tells us his family is addicted to FarmVille so he has extra pressure to deliver great new gaming experiences. When will we see farmer's markets steve?
the zynga team went into action as soon as we learned of the devastation in Haiti.
Here is the update on our efforts and where you can participate:
following is more info on the programs zynga and farmville players are supporting. this was prepared and executed by my amazing sister, laura hartman, who is a professor of business ethics at depaul university in chicago and has also been acting director of zynga's non profit efforts.
With a population of just over ten million people, Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and the 7th poorest in the world. Fifty-four percent of its people live on less than one dollar a day; 80% live on less than two dollars. Zynga's mission of connecting the world through games is enhanced by our opportunity to support the health and education of these children and their families.
Since unemployment in Haiti is so high (estimated at 30-50%), micro-loans such as those provided by one of our recipient organizations, Fonkoze, become critical to survival.
Most Haitians do not have adequate housing, nor proper sanitary conditions. Migration to the major cities has compounded the urban housing problem. Natural disasters, including cyclones, floods, droughts, and earthquakes, have had serious effects on the housing situation, as well. The photos below were taken during Prof. Hartman's visit to these Fonkoze borrowers, as well.
FarmVille farmers' and Zynga's contributions will assist the children and their families be more effectively prepared for the housing challenges they face.
FATEM is a non-profit organization based in Mirebalais, Haiti, and originally organized to bring information technology to the people in the region, thus helping with the economic advancement of the area. More recently, however, FATEM recognized the need for a sustainable means by which to support the general education of Haitian children and to ensure that these children have the necessary meals that will permit their young bodies and brains to learn and grow.
FONKOZE, based in Port-au-Prince, is an alternative bank for the poor. It is Haiti's largest micro-finance institution and is committed to the economic and social improvement of the people and communities of Haiti and to the reduction of poverty in the country.
michael arrington posted yesterday on mobile
offerings still being shown in our
new game fishville. I want to explain why this
occurred and how we are taking more aggressive steps to ensure this
never happens again.
zynga has not been able to
control the ad content as it is managed by the offer companies that we work with.
with regards to yesterday's incident, the offer provider, doubleding, told us this was the result of their failure to remove an optimization queue which was still showing these ads to 10% of pageviews. i want to be clear that zynga had no control over the pages being shown and never filtered them from michael or anyone's view.
we recognize it is our responsibility to ensure that offers which generate a bad user experience are not shown with any of our games.
therefore, we are removing all CPA offers across zynga games until we can control their inclusion and presentation ourselves. This will be effective by end of day today. this move is worth it for the long-term user experience and value to our partners like facebook and myspace.
yesterday’s mobile offer issue was particularly painful as we had helped fund doubleding earlier this year in the hopes of cleaning up the space and raising the bar on user experience. we intend to influence them and others to improve their ad content and be long-term focused for the success of the social gaming and social networking industries.
as I said in my post last monday, my mission is to build zynga into a sustainable consumer service with enduring value to our users. we will continue to do whatever it takes to earn our users trust and respect for the long-term.
Michael Arrington posted over the weekend about CPA offers within social games and questioned why facebook, myspace, zynga and others would expose these to our users. He raises good points about ‘scammy’ advertisers and the bad user experience they create. I agree with him and others that some of these offers misrepresent and hurt our industry.
It has been my mission at zynga to create a sustainable consumer service with long term value to our users and partners. Social gaming is emerging quickly and requiring new rules of engagement from host networks to user payments and advertising forms.
So why does zynga offer these ads?
Most of these offers are good for the advertiser and user. There are many users who don’t have access to online payment methods who are still interested in making in game purchases. There is also great potential for large web players like amzn, ebay and netflix to leverage social media channels like facebook and zynga to acquire new user relationships. Sponsoring a white tiger or pink tractor may accelerate these customer acquisition campaigns.
The offer industry is still just getting started and this category of advertising makes up a small minority of our revenue, the bulk of which comes from users directly purchasing virtual goods.
We have worked hard to police and remove bad offers. In fact, the worst offender, tatto media, referenced in the techcrunch article, had already been taken down and permanently banned prior to the post. Nevertheless, we need to be more aggressive and have revised our service level agreements with these providers requiring them to filter and police offers prior to posting on their networks. We have also removed all mobile ads until we see any that offer clear user value.
At zynga, we have faced a similar challenge in providing customer support to millions of users of our free games. Six months ago we were overwhelmed with our ticket volumes and faced an F rating with the better business bureau. We made massive efforts to address this, getting our maximum response times for live email and phone support down to 72 hours and raised our rating to a B+. Even today we realize our customer support isn’t at the level our users expect and we continue to work on it.
Similarly, we are working to improve the quality of the CPA offers exposed to our users and evolving our policies and practices to ensure that zynga is worthy of our users’ trust.
There is no doubt that social gaming is entering the mainstream culture and there is a business to be created around fun. It's particularly exciting to see how social games can empower people to change their world. In a small way, we have seen this with our sweet seeds for Haiti campaign where Farmville players raised $500k to provide lunches for 500 kids for the next year. We expect to do more.
As we evolve to a world where people connections are the basis for the largest consumer services, we will face more challenges. I’m confident that with so many smart people (and critics) we will overcome these.
dear zynga gamers,
we are sorry that our games were down for the last 2 hrs. our netops crew is working hard to bring our games back up. mafia wars is up now on fb and rest coming in next few minutes.
we're really sorry your evening fun was interrupted.
Todays usa today reports that despite obama's pledge to reduce earmarks to below $7.8b (where they were before bush), they will still hit $19b.
They include F22 jets the pentagon doesn't want!
$2m for a bike path in spokane.
$600k for the wild turkey federation, a turkey hunting group.
Apparently, obama may now not want to stand up to fellow law makers as he needs their support to pass his healthcare bill.
Guess the dream of a president who will veto earmarked spending bills is still one for movies. Where's dave?
kevin rose of diggnation covers your game! well, he actually said he lost geek cred by even mentioning, but check out minute 35ish and on where he covers farmville...
this has become a big topic in the past week with fred's post and now a techcrunch story. also, thx to adeo ressi for all his great work with the funded and the entrepreneur foundation to help spur more amazing startups.
Fyi, facebook is experiencing network outages which have taken all our games down intermittently all morning. Sorry to anyone missing their morning fix.
Its been painful to watch our democrat led govt turn into a free money feeding frenzy.
Todays nytimes reports that in order to pass the climate change bill lawmakers doled out billions in gifts to each other and special interests from agriculture, forestry and even oil.
It says "the deal making continued up untill the final moments with rep waxman doling out billions on the house floor to secure final votes.'
The story notes that a freshman lawmaker from florida got $50 million for a hurricane research center.
Rep bobby rush of illinois withheld support until a last minute deal got his state $1 billion for jobs and energy efficient public housing. Does anyone question whether the energy saved will equal the $1 billion we're providing?
Even texas oil refineries got 'relief' with nearly $3 billion annually to help with added costs.
Rahm emanuel's quote says the president 'loves the bill...including the great, the good and the not so great provisions.'
As I've said before, we are reliving the lyndon johnson years of guns and butter. The only difference is the magnitude of spending.
What happens when you have a country with less than half its voters paying any taxes and a small % paying the majority?
For the minority footing greater bills there is a disincentive to generate income. For the vast majority there is a race to the bottom. Get while the getting's good.
In other nytimes news...the governor of south carolina says he will repay public funds used to visit his mistress in argentina which he rationalizes because 'it was a real love story'. And Al franken wins the supreme court decision giving the dems a filibuster proof senate majority.
God help us all:)
I'm happy to report that zynga is now handling all cs tix within 72 hrs. Our team has worked hard to keep up with the growth in our game userbase. Zynga now has nearly 200 cs reps across 3 continents responding to our customers.
If you have an outstanding issue that remains unresolved pls resubmit to our cs.
The govt running gm is like wolves tending the sheep herd. Great npr piece on all the ways congressmen are interfering with gm mgt's efforts to reduce costs.
Zynga has recently banned many players across its games for bad actions like chip hacking and selling.
If you believe you have been unfairly banned pls email chris hinton, firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your profile. Zynga will verify your account and reinstate if deserved.
Zynga has taken some massive actions this week to protect our users from in game hackers.
if you feel you have been wrongly banned from our games go to our customer support and they will verify your account status.
We have massively scaled our customer support to well over 100 full time reps to help deal with this.
You can also post to this blog and I will do my best to respond.
I'm sorry for any trouble anyone has had. We strive to offer a fun, safe environment for you to play with your friends and (nice) other people:)
All web services will eventually look and feel like games. Users will gravitate to the 'funnest' ecommerce or other sites. Game mex will be the most valuable skillset for web content and commerce.
Why isn't there an app that tells me question types for various positions and then let's me benchmark answers in relative and absolute terms?
It could propose simple to hard verbal math problems for engineers and biz people to test problem solving. It could let me time responses.
We have entered the third business plan of the web.
Web 1.0 was about aggregating online audiences. The currency was eye balls measured in page views. This business was banner ads and ecommerce.
Web 2.0 was the search economy which enabled many more businesses to participate through sem and seo. The currency was clicks and while it was higher margin, most of that went to the search companies, primarily goog.
Web 3.0 is about monetizing this massive web audience through users paying for mostly digital goods and services. The product will be a service or at least ongoing relationship. Distribution could be through Apps or even daily emails. The currency will be DAUs (daily active users). This will be higher margin and fuel an exponentially greater number of companies.
Web 3.0 businesses may range from games and virtual goods (like zynga) to private sales like my wife's www.onekingslane.com/join . It will spawn many new online industries with creative entrepreneurs constantly testing what digital goods and services users will be willing to pay for.
Web 3.0 businesses will be measured in $$/pixel/minute. This is a throw back to hsn and qvc. These home shopping services proliferated because they could better monetize local cable screen time which couldn't be sold as it wasn't measurable.
Web 3.0 services will be ttly metric driven. The best will combine intuition and data to rapidly iterate and drive reach, retention and revenue.
Major distribution platforms from social nets like fb and myspace to portals like yhoo and goog should all be massive beneficiaries. Key will be their ability to attract entrepreneurs and enable them to effectively test their services.
If TCI has been able to do this with its channel space all of cable would be far more valuable and relevant today.
Msg to big media -- open api your assets. Invite the world to harvest your land.