Zynga’s Chief Games Designer Brian Reynolds Resigns

Another report of a high-profile loss for Zynga: This time it is confirming that chief game designer Brian Reynolds has resigned.

Zynga Brian reynoldsIn a statement, Zynga’s President of Games Steve Chiang confirmed the departure:

“Brian has a long history in the game industry and has been a great partner to the creative leaders at Zynga. 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.”

Reynold’s departure, which was first reported by Polygon, is particularly noteworthy since he was one of Zynga’s top gaming veterans.

When Reynolds joined Zynga nearly four years ago, he gave the company credibility in the gaming world — if someone who was known for being the lead designer on the hit Civilization II would join Zynga, then maybe building casual games on Facebook was a legitimate business.

Since joining Zynga, his work has included creating FrontierVille and CityVille 2. He also assisted with the launch of FarmVille 2 and ChefVille.

But the company’s creative team has undergone a lot of changes over the past few months.

When Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu left in August, Reynolds was one of the game leaders who was expected to step up to fill his shoes, along with Tim LeTourneau and Bill Jackson. In November, Zynga promoted LeTourneau to replace Verdu.

With all the departures, the company is essentially playing a game of musical chairs, plugging each hole with talent from another part of the company when someone leaves. While it has had the depth to do that so far, the worry is that at some point its ranks will wear thin.

Reynolds has not said what he is doing next, but using the Twitter handle @ZyngaGameChief, he confirmed his departure: “Yes I’m officially leaving Zynga after 3 3/4 great years. Back soon… need to think of a new Twitter handle though!”

Shortly after, he updated his Twitter handle to @TheGameChief.

To be sure, the company’s stock price has not helped with retention.

Until recently, shares were trading around $2.40 a share, or about 80 percent below the company’s public offering. On Monday, shares soared 14 percent in anticipation of Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings this afternoon. Today, shares are trading a little lower at $2.57 a share.


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