Report: Another Zynga Exec Flies the Coop

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The talent exodus at beleaguered Zynga is reportedly bleeding over into the new year with the imminent departure of Zynga East chief game designer Brian Reynolds (pictured).

A Zynga executive confirmed that Reynolds, who joined the San Francisco-based social game developer to lead its Baltimore studio in 2009, would be leaving the company, according to Polygon, which first reported the news on Tuesday.

Zynga did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment, but Polygon reported that Zynga exec Steve Chiang confirmed that Reynolds was leaving on an unspecified date.

“Brian has a long history in the game industry and has been a great partner to the creative leaders at Zynga,” Chiang was quoted as saying. “I want to thank him for his leadership of the Zynga Baltimore studio in the design and development of FrontierVille, which brought many innovations to social gaming.

“We appreciate Brian’s contribution and we’re proud of the deep bench of creative leaders who are leading the next wave of game innovation at Zynga. We wish Brian the best in his next chapter.”

Reynolds helped guide the development of Frontierville, Cityville 2, and other Facebook games for Zynga, joining the company after a long and storied career in PC game development. In the mid-1990s, he served as lead designer on multi-million-selling titles Civilization II and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri—despite the attachment of Civilization creator Meier’s name to those projects, Reynolds is widely known to have created and designed both games.

A co-founder of Firaxis Games, where he developed Alpha Centauri and other titles, Reynolds wound up selling his share of the company in 2000 to head up Big Huge Games. When Curt Schilling’s now-defunct 38 Studios acquired Big Huge Games in 2009, Reynolds joined Zynga.

Since going public in December 2011, Zynga has had a rough go of it. The company has produced less-than-stellar quarterly earnings amid rounds of layoffs and office closures, been criticized for its purported over-reliance on Facebook, alleged lifting of existing game concepts, and its so-called “brogrammer” culture, and even faced a lawsuit over poor financial results following its IPO.

Then there’s the evidence of those voting with their feet. If and when he leaves, Reynolds will join a sizable list of former Zynga creative and management talent that’s flown the coop in recent months.

Polygon’s long list of high-profile employees who left the company in 2012 includes “chief operating officer John Schappert, chief creative officer Mike Verdu, chief security officer Nils Puhlmann, chief technical officer of infrastructure Allan Leinwand, OMGPOP chief revenue officer Wilson Griegel, and Words With Friends co-creators David and Paul Bettner,” as well as chief financial officer David Wehner, who left the company on Nov. 13.

By Damon Poeter, PCMag


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