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Zynga: "Games should be free"

FarmVille dev reveals secrets of its success.

Zynga, the social gaming juggernaut responsible for FarmVille and its ilk, believes that games should be free to all.

The insight was included in a letter to prospective shareholders from CEO and founder Mark Pincus promoting the company.

According to the note, which can be read in full on IndustryGamers, the following "operating philosophies" have been "fundamental" to Zynga's success:

  • "Games should be accessible to everyone, anywhere, any time. From the beginning, we have strived to lower the barriers to play in people’s lives. We want to build games to play with our parents, our children, our co-workers and our best friends."
  • "Games should be social. Every week our teams test new features to make our games more social. Historically, our players have created over 4 billion neighbor connections. And, currently, our 60 million daily active users interact with each other 416 million times a day."
  • "Games should be free. Free games are more social because they’re more accessible to everyone. We’ve also found them to be more profitable. We have created a new kind of customer relationship with new economics—free first, high satisfaction, pay optional. This model aligns shareholder value with delivering the best player experience."
  • "Games should be data driven. Our culture combines the creative with the analytical. We develop and operate our games as live services with daily, metrics-based player feedback. This allows us to continually iterate, innovate and invest in the content our players love."
  • "Games should do good. We want to help the world while doing our day jobs. Through Zynga.org our players have purchased social goods, raising more than $10 million for those in need from tornado-stricken communities in Alabama to earthquake survivors in Haiti. With programs like our Sweet Seeds for Haiti, our players have touched people around the world."

Pincus' letter was published in the wake of Zynga's decision to register for an IPO – where it makes shares available to the public for the first time. Estimates put its value at a cool $20 billion.

Set up in 2007, its titles include FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Words With Friends, CityVille and Drop7.