Shay Pierce made it clear why he turned down steady pay and benefits when Zynga bought his old employer, OMGPOP, the makers of Draw Something. He was concerned that his ownership of a personally developed and published game on the iTunes App store would be a conflict.
He chose not to join Zynga with the rest of OMGPOP, and maintain control of that game, Connectrode. Writing for Gamasutra about his decision to do so, he said Zynga, in so many words, is an “evil” company.
Doesn’t it suck when someone goes public with the implication the people they work with are sellouts? Evidently that irony was lost on Dan Porter, OMGPOP’s boss, because he took to Twitter to rip Pierce a fresh one.
“The one omgpop employee who turned down joining Zynga was the weakest one on the whole team,” Porter wrote in a series of now-deleted tweets. “Selfish people make bad games. Good riddance! What’s so interesting about success is the number of failures who try to ride on your back. Shay Pierce is just one of many…”
Kotaku had reached out to Porter on Friday to ask his reaction to Pierce’s editorial, back when this was largely an inside spat. “OMGPOP has always been a team effort and that’s what we celebrate. Not self promotion or people hopping on the gravy train. We are all incredibly excited about working with Zynga. It’s all about team.”
Something must have really pissed off Porter about it yesterday, though. His was such breathtakingly douchebag behaviour that no less than Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, took to Twitter to call out Porter. “You are an insane idiot,” Notch wrote.
So we have an independent games developer plus a powerful and admired figure in independent games development, versus Facebook games giant Zynga, not exactly widely liked among gamers. Either Porter came to his senses or quickly figured out what a world of terrible PR he was in for if he didn’t man up and say sorry. He did.
“I’m sorry for what I said last night. No excuses,” Porter wrote. I’ve been down that road myself. It’s like ripping off a Band Aid, but you have to do it.
Pierce, just to restate it, did not turn down his portion of Zynga’s buyout of OMGPOP. He “had a small amount of equity,” in the studio and was compensated for it. Though he did call them “evil”, he explained why and said the company’s values were contrary to his own. But the decision was mostly about the game he’d built himself.