Zynga is royalty when it comes to social gaming, skyrocketing from an upstart to a powerhouse with the massive success of games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. A former senior employee recounts to San Francisco paper SF Weekly, however, that not all is well in the casual kingdom. In fact, the anonymous source goes as far as to call the studio “one of the most evil places I’ve run into.”

The staffer was evidently quite eager to join Zynga and be a part of the Web 2.0 trend. Instead, he says he was met with an environment that promoted cannibalism of other ideas in favor of original content. Among the listed offenses, the source said that staffers were, and are still, instructed to blatantly steal the idea of competitors. He recalls a time when founder Mark Pincus spoke on the subject, allegedly saying “I don’t f**king want innovation. You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.”

SF Weekly also claims that they spoke to other Zynga exes who mimicked the same sentiment – capitalizing on established ideas (they used the word “stealing”) and using Zynga’s brand capital to force competitors/originators out of the market is commonplace. Zynga’s flagship release FarmVille and developer Slashkey’s game Farm Town is one of the most notorious examples.

Playing off Google’s quirky “Don’t be Evil” motto, the ex-employee drew a very unflattering parallel.

“Zynga's motto is 'Do Evil,’” he said to SF Weekly. “I would venture to say it is one of the most evil places I've run into, from a culture perspective and in its business approach. I've tried my best to make sure that friends don't let friends work at Zynga.”

SF Weekly says that they’ve hit roadblocks trying to speak directly to Zynga for a comment. We can understand Zynga's hesitation to address – and perhaps legitimize – the issue, but have reached out for comment as well.

[SF Weekly via Gamasutra]