August is typically a very slow month for gaming news, but the industry soldiers on, and there are still plenty of things going on behind the scenes. Zynga's still not looking too great, we learn what many of Kingdoms of Amalur's former developers are doing, and Microsoft still loves its funny money. My favorite odd news from the industry this week comes in the form of a heart rate monitor being incorporated into a hunting game. Considering my typical rate of expletives per minute while playing difficult platformers (it's a sign of love!), I just hope heart monitors are never incorporated into that genre.
More Zynga Fallout
Last week I reported on Zynga's stock value difficulties and the copyright lawsuit that EA has filed against it. This week gives us some insight into what's been going on within the company. First, Zynga's Chief Operating Officer John Schappert resigned after being demoted a bit thanks to the company's current difficulties. Schappert was originally poached from EA, and we don't know where he'll end up next. Various analysts suggest that Schappert wasn't around long enough to be responsible for Zynga's problems, so blaming him for them is a bit of scapegoating.
In the meantime, several anonymous (supposed) Zynga employees have vented about the company and its current status on a Quora Q&A. One poster discusses how his or her startup was acquired by Zynga, worked to the bone in a way that physically and mentally exhausted its staff, forced to follow the Zynga game development formula, then basically tossed aside when the resulting game didn't produce expected "metrics." The highly demanding work environment at Zynga is no secret, but it's always a shame to see the personal cost that many game companies exact on their employees. If Zynga fails to survive its current problems, I have a suspicion that it will not be greatly mourned.
Former Big Huge Gamers Become Impossible
One of the few pieces of good news that came out of the 38 Studios/BHG meltdown is that Epic Games has created a subsidiary studio out of a number of former Big Huge Games developers. That studio now has a name, Impossible Studios, and a first project. Ian Frazier and his fellow Impossible developers will be working on Infinity Blade: Dungeons for iOS, a project that was already underway. Once Infinity Blade is complete, Impossible will probably have the opportunity to move on to bigger projects, as Epic apparently has designs for a team full of "superstars" like the one it just hired.