Apple took over the Internet news cycle today with the announcement of the iPad Mini. The news would obviously drown out anything else, including mass layoffs at one of the largest social game developers in the world. Nobody would be that stupid to try a stunt like that though, right?
That seems to be exactly what happened during the iPad Mini event as Zynga is rumored to have laid off over 100 employees from its Austin studio. There are similar layoffs being reported from its Chicago and Boston offices as well.
The news first broke less than an hour ago when Justin Maxwell, a friend of a Zynga employee in Austin, reported the lay offs via Twitter.
Zynga just laid off 100+ employees (incl. my friends) in its Austin office during the Apple Event. Gave them 2 hours to vacate. RT please.
He later clarified that the teams let go were those behind The Ville and Bingo. He also said that the news comes from a friend and that it's not an official announcement from Zynga. Gamasutra reached out to other sources, however, and were able to confirm the layoffs at the Austin studio.
Speaking to another source, Joystiq was able to confirm that the The Ville and Bingo teams were indeed cut. The Austin studio still has about 70 employees left working on Zynga Slots. The company's simulated gambling division is still doing relatively well so it makes sense to keep them around. It's unknown if Zynga will drop support for the games that were affected by the cuts.
It's not exactly surprising to see the layoffs at this point considering how awful Zynga has performed this year. The company's value has dropped considerably since its IPO and many top executives and creators have already left. The executives that are left are being investigated for insider trading after they sold most of their stock prior to the crash.
While the layoffs at Austin have been pretty much confirmed, we still don't know the fate of Boston or Chicago. There's a good chance they were also affected.
Many game industry folks (and Zynga haters) took to Twitter to discuss the rather convenient timing in which Zynga announced the lay offs:
Hahaha Zynga quickly laid off 100 people during the Apple event to hide the bad press. A CLASS ACT
Zynga just laid of 100+ people and used the Apple event to hide the noise….
Zynga's decision to try and avoid bad press by laying people off during the Apple event will only result in a much nastier, ugly reaction.
Zynga just used the Apple event as cover for laying off over 100 people.
Now that the Apple event is over, let's all hate Zynga for closing/laying off Boston, Chicago and Austin during the event
Zynga just found a sure-fire way to get press during an Apple event.