Game Development Reference
Interview with Newtoy, Words with Friends
PB: Zynga sometimes gets a bad rap in the traditional games industry,
but the reality is that Zynga is more passionate about good game design
and creating fun for our players than any game company I've ever
worked at. Zynga studies its players and how they play, relentlessly.
This drives a deep level of insight into game design through analytics
and a metrics-driven approach. The opportunity to learn and apply
these skills across the With Friends games has already had a noticeable
impact on our “player delight.”
Q: How have your successes changed things at your studio?
PB: Our success has allowed us to grow, hire more of our friends, and
build toward the creative powerhouse that we've always hoped our studio
would become. Success has also had a very positive impact on morale.
There's nothing like wearing our Words with Friends T-shirts and being
stopped in a mall or an airport by someone who wants to tell us how
much they love the game. That fuels the fire for all of us—it's why we do
what we do!
Q: As mobile phones and tablets advance, what sort of new game design
challenges and opportunities do you see?
DB: Looking to the future of mobile game development, I see increas-
ing game complexity as a challenge. We're able to make hit games right
now with relatively small teams, compared to the console world I came
from. As handheld phones become more and more powerful, I hope we
can stay true to the mentality we have now where a fun, well-designed
user experience is at the core of the game. With more power comes the
potential for more complexity, bigger teams, bigger budgets, longer dev
cycles. As an industry, I'm optimistic we've learned our lessons and
we'll be able to strike the right balance between eye candy and innova-
As to what opportunities will present themselves? I think we're still
only beginning to scratch the surface of utilizing the current feature set
of our phones. Who would have thought I would one day use the same
device to play games with my friends, track my jogging route, and make a
phone call? Smartphones are integrating themselves into every part of our
life and what defines a “game” is becoming more loosely defined all the
time. So, I guess that's a long-winded way of saying I think the opportuni-
ties are almost endless, and I can't wait to explore them.