In Good Company: I’ve been copied by Zynga, too

Yesterday I tried Zynga’s new mobile game Zynga Slots on my iPad. The game was released at the beginning of the week and already reached the top 10 in the free games category.

I’m not a very enthusiastic slots player myself. Still, the last game we released at Mytopia before I left was Slots Blast, which I wrote the initial game concept for (and was later developed into a wonderful design by Dadi Neeman). I also have friends which developed the – probably – world’s most successful casual slots game to date – Slotomania. I wanted to know what will be Zynga’s approach to this very saturated yet very profitable niche game. Knowing Zynga’s reputation of ripping off the category’s leader (Bingo, Tiny Tower, etc), I was also curious to see how much of Slotomania’s design they’ve copied…

Imagine my surprise when I found out Zynga had just copied my initial concept of Adventure Strip based slots.

I had to admit they did a good job executing it, even added a bunch of good features, but it was still more than just being inspired. They even copied Slots Blast’s spaceship from the logo and lobby and used it as an image on a button… 🙂


Since I assume most of you never played Slots Blast (it only had a modest success so far..) I’ll explain the idea behind it. We assumed that some of the casual players – being a bit different than the gambling-oriented type – might find the endless spinning a bit repetitious and boring after a while, and will be better motivated by a story that unfolds in the machine’s world.

The basic concept was to turn the XP (Experience Points) bar into a story where the player’s character is the hero. Every time a player press “Spin” she gains experience points which are based on the bet amount. Regardless of the spin result, she got the points. Those points are represented as an advancement of the character in the Adventure Strip. The higher the bet amount, the more points the player gets – and the greater distance her character progresses. The adventure strip art is closely tied to the slots machine theme and the player’s character starts on the left and makes it’s way to the far right. Reaching the end means the player had completed this machine and a new machine was opened.

This means that you have an extra motivation to play – every spin progressed the story and gets your character closer to the goal at the far right of the strip. Near the end of the strip the player might be so motivated to complete the goal she might not even look if she won a spin or not.

We played with different goal ideas for the adventure strip, what should happens during the journey, what should be the prize at the end of the strip, will it be an item to be used in the next machine’s strip etc. Eventually Dadi, Amir (Slots Blast’s producer) and the team took it to a really cool place, but since it’s an active game 888 (owner of Mytopia) continues to run, I’ll refrain from giving any details here.

Mytopia lately removed the adventure strip from the live game for performance issues (as far as I understood), so it’s funny seeing the concept currently running only on Zynga’s game. But it still doesn’t make this any different. The blunt way Zynga keeps copying stuff is still an issue in our industry, especially since its not a fair game – Zynga’s massive marketing power over-shadows any other company (maybe except EA).

On a personal level I’m actually a little amused and flattered. Such a vote of confidence is always a nice thing. 🙂


PS – You can now also read how the concept of Bingo Blast was born – and what games inspired it.


Links to other shots from the original game: