Tag Archives: Zynga

Zynga Data Breach Affects 200 Million Android and iOS Gamers

Hacker News has reported that a hacker has claimed to have breached the mobile game company Zynga, Inc. Earlier this year, the same hacker reportedly sold almost a billion user records stolen from approximately 45 popular online services.

According to Hacker News, the hacker managed to breach the Words With Friends game, which has a database of more than 218 million users. Zynga posted a Player Security Announcement about this on September 12, 2019. It doesn’t say very much.

Cyber attacks are one of the unfortunate realities of doing business today. We recently discovered that certain player account information may have been illegally accessed by outside hackers. An investigation was commenced, leading third-party forensics firms were retained to assist, and we have contacted law enforcement.

While the investigation is ongoing, we do not believe any financial information was accessed. However, we have identified account login information for certain players of Draw Something and Words With Friends that may have been accessed. As a precaution, we have taken steps to protect these users’ accounts from invalid logins. We plan to further notify players as the investigation proceeds.

Forbes reported that the Zynga breach affects all players on both Android and iOS platforms who installed and signed up to play Words With Friends before September 3, 2019. Forbes points out that the hacker told Hacker News that data belonging to Draw Something, and from a discontinued game called OMGPOP, was also accessed.

What Zynga data has potentially been compromised? It may include: names, email addresses, login IDs, hashed passwords, password reset tokens if one had ever been requested, phone numbers where provided, Facebook IDs if connected to the social media platform, and Zynga account IDs.

Personally, I have never understood why someone would decided to breach Zynga (or any other gaming company) for the purpose of stealing data. The hacker must be aware that what they are doing is illegal. There is always the potential that hacker will be caught have will have to face legal consequences.

Zynga’s Sponsored Play Turns Ads into Games

Farmville Harvest Swap LogoZynga, the company that makes “Farmville” and “Words With Friends”, is now including in-game advertising. This new ad product is called Sponsored Play. It allows franchises to have their products featured in branded levels of existing Zynga games.

In short, it appears that the branded levels will feature a short, fun, game, based around the product that is sponsoring it. Clorox, the company that owns the brand Hidden Valley Ranch, is featured in one of the first Sponsored Play games. Their ad/game is called Farmville Harvest Swap. It is a match three type of puzzle game.

“Farmville Harvest Swap” can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play. In addition to puzzles, the ad/game includes “delightful story-driven progression”.

The true purpose of the game, however, is to enable Clorox to promote its Hidden Valley Ranch products. AdAge reports that the game includes a level where players harvest ingredients for a Hidden Valley Ranch recipe. After players complete the recipe, they are presented with a clickable link that connects to Hidden Valley Ranch’s recipe site.

One could reasonably conclude that more Sponsored Play content will appear in Zynga’s games in the future. Potentially, this could provide Zynga, whose games are free-to-play, with a new revenue stream.

Adults, of course, will be able identify games like “Farmville Harvest Swap” as an advertisement. Children, however, might not be able to differentiate between the Farmville game and the Farmville Sponsored Play advertisement. This brings up the sticky question of whether or not Zynga may be (perhaps unintentionally) directing ads at children. Parents need to be aware that Sponsored Play games could direct their child to websites that have nothing to do with Zynga’s games.

Zynga is Closing Eleven Games

Zynga logoZynga has announced that it will be closing eleven of its games on April 30, 2015. I first learned about this when I tried to play CafeVille and was presented with an informative page that discussed the upcoming end of the game. It was a fun, extremely simple, game that involved virtual food.

Zynga posted on its blog a “games update”. Part of it said:

Based on the natural evolution of our game storylines and changing consumer preferences, we have made the tough but important decision to close 11 of our older Web and mobile games, some of which have been in market for more than 4 years. The games impacted are: Ayakashi: Ghost Guild, Bubble Safari Mobile, Bubble Safari Ocean, CastleVille, ChefVille, Duck Dynasty Slots, Pioneer Trail, Puzzle Charms, Skateboard Slam, Riches of Olympus Slots, and Zynga Slots. All games will be ending by April 30th. Games have begun rolling out closure information via in-game messages and a thank you to players.

At the time I am writing this blog, Zynga has six games that are accessible to play on the website. Or, at least, they used to be. I’m having difficulty trying to play CafeVille today because the game keeps having an error and then refreshing (and making me lose progress). Your experience may vary.

Later on in the blog post, Zynga points out that they have three mobile games slated to launch later this year. Those games are Farmville: Harvest Swap, Empires & Allies and Dawn of Titans. There is no specific date on when those games will appear. Interestingly, the blog also says “…we are excited to usher in a new era of Zynga and NaturalMotion games that we hope you will enjoy.”

NaturalMotion is the creator of the Clumsy Ninja game that was featured in the Apple Keynote Event in 2012. It seems NaturalMotion joined Zynga in 2014.

Zynga Will Close Hidden Chronicles Game

Hidden Chronicles Zynga appZynga has announced that they will be closing down their Hidden Chronicles game. It has been around since January of 2012. The game will disappear from both Facebook and the Zynga website on July 22, 2014. As of May 28, 2012, Hidden Chronicles is no longer open to new players.

Current players are being offered “special packages” that will help them get started in one of Zynga’s other games. Specifically, Zynga is suggesting that players of Hidden Chronicles try FarmVille 2, Puzzle Charms, or CastleVille Legends.

The decision to close Hidden Chronicles does not surprise me. The game was a competitor to the Gardens of Time game from Playdom. Both games required players to find objects that were hidden in an image. Doing so enabled players to unlock special buildings or decorations that they could put into a virtual space of their own and move around as they liked. Each game had its own, somewhat limited, storyline.

In April of 2014, Playdom removed their Gardens of Time game from the Playdom website and from Facebook. At the same time, Playdom also removed all of their games that could be played through their website. Zynga’s Hidden Chronicles game outlasted its competitor, and it appears that Zynga doesn’t feel a need to keep it any longer. The company may feel that it served its purpose.

Part of the message that current players of Hidden Chronicles got from Zynga said: “We are making the tough decision to close Hidden Chronicles so we can put more time and energy into developing new games that we hope you will love just as much.”

The wording is extremely similar to part of the message that Playdom sent Gardens of Time players when it announced the closure of that game. They said: “Although it is a difficult decision to shut down a game, this decision will allow us to focus on building new, more engaging games.”

It is also worth pointing out that RockYou purchased, and will assume operation of, three of the games that Playdom closed: Gardens of Time and Words of Wonder, on Facebook and mobile, and City Girl on Facebook. There is no evidence at this time that suggests that RockYou has any intention of purchasing Hidden Chronicles from Zynga.

Zynga No Longer Requires Facebook

ZyngaThose of you who have wanted to play Farmville2, Chefville, Hidden Chronicles, or several of the other Zynga games, but who do not have a Facebook account, are now able to play them. You can create an account at Zynga.com with your email address. Facebook is no longer required.

This update which was announced in March, has now taken effect. Zynga posted a blog a few weeks ago to let current players of their games know what to expect. To me, the best part of the update is that I can play Zynga games again even though I do not have a Facebook account. (I do not want a Facebook account).

Gamers who were already playing Zynga games through Facebook, or who created an account at Zynga.com that was connected to their Facebook account, need not worry. You will not have to start your games from scratch, you won’t lose the friends you play with through Facebook, and your game will continue on as expected. The difference is that you now have the option of choosing to start from scratch. Which, as Zynga notes, can be a good thing! Either way, the games are free to play.

Players who live in the UK may be interested to hear that Zynga has recently released Zynga Plus Poker It offers online poker, slot machines, blackjack, and other gambling type games. You cannot play these games for free. Part of the fine print at the Zynga Plus Poker website reads:

Play for real money, win for real at our poker tournaments and cash games with your mates and meet new friends who share your love for poker along the way.

Clearly, Zynga has taken a step towards “real money” gaming with its Zynga Plus Poker. It my understanding that you cannot participate unless you are in the UK. I expect we will see more types of “pay to play” games from Zynga in the near future. Could Farmville2 one day require a paid subscription? We will have to wait and see.

Zynga Will No Longer Require Players to Use Facebook

ZyngaThis is exactly what I’ve been waiting to hear from Zynga! As you may recall, Zynga and Facebook changed their relationship status in November of 2012. It marked the beginning of changes between the two companies. To make a long story short, it appeared that there was potential that there would come a day when people who did not have a Facebook account could access Zynga games through the Zynga website.

Today, we get more details how that is going to work. Zynga wrote a blog that describes the update. It reads:

So what’s new? Starting next week, when you visit Zynga.com you will see a streamlined setup that lets you create your own account just for playing games. We also wanted to make sure that existing Zynga.com players continue to have the best experience possible so you don’t have to start from scratch. All players will have the option to connect with Facebook and keep your game friends and game progress, while deciding what you will share with your gaming community.

Basically, this means that next week, players who do not have a Facebook account will be able to play Zynga games through Zynga.com. It also means that people who have a Facebook account and have been playing games both at the Zynga website and on Facebook won’t lose access to their fellow gamers on Facebook once this change starts.

As someone who has gotten quite tired of Facebook, I have to admit I am excited to start playing Zynga games again. I’ve been wondering if Farmville 2 is as fun as the original version. Looks like I will soon have the opportunity to find out! You cannot log in without a Facebook account just yet (I checked) but it will happen soon.

This change matches what Playdom has been doing for quite some time – allowing players to access their games through Playdom.com without requiring them to have a Facebook account. Since leaving Facebook, Playdom has gotten all of my attention when I was seeking a quick, simple, game to play. Zynga wasn’t getting any, as I could not access their games. It will be interesting to see what happens after next week.