Zynga Takes Steps To Remove Scams From Games

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Well that didn’t take long. We outlined the not-so-ethical ways that the big social gaming startups are generating revenue through lead gen scams and subscriptions through a series of posts over the last week. Starting with Social Games: How The Big Three Make Millions and Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell. We also threw in some comments by other companies and a former scammer, and a quote from Zynga that 1/3 of their revenues come from offers, much of which are scams.

We thought this would be a fight that would take months to end successfully, and we thought that only Facebook or MySpace would make the move to clean up their own platforms.

But boy am I surprised today to see Zynga, the worst of the offenders, admit publicly to the problem and take quick steps to change. CEO Mark Pincus says:

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.

Later in the post he also says:

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.

Hats off to Zynga. Flat out admitting that the problem exists and taking early steps to fix it is just something you don’t see from most companies. While Offerpal’s CEO (why coincidentally and humorously has 666 Facebook friends) takes an offensive “shit, doubleshit and bullshit” denial strategy, Zynga’s CEO just stepped up to the plate and hit the ball out of the park. He also just self regulated before Facebook or MySpace could even respond.

There may be hope yet for the Internet.

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