Friday, August 6, 2010

Zynga's Strategic Error, Pregnant Sows and False Requests

Farmville, a farming simulation game, may be one of the most popular games on Facebook and its 'sister game', Frontierville, may be considered as the closest to Harvest Moon in details by some fans of the series, but I for one believe that Zynga, the maker of both, is making some serious tactical errors with respect to its consumer base.

Obviously, Zynga's main purpose in creating these games is not to entertain us but to make some money. Nothing wrong with that BUT when playing any game threatens to drown a person's Facebook account in endless streams of postings about the game, many players (including me) become thoroughly disgusted. Furthermore, the tendency in the newer game, Frontierville, to treat every player like an absolute idiot by giving constant in-game prompts as to what action to perform next are being adopted by Farmville.

Where Farmville is concerned, I counted three prompts almost as soon as I loaded my farm to post suggestions to players' walls that they become Neighbours AND to send gifts to players who had abandoned their Farms to resume gameplay. These prompts interfered so badly with my own gameplay that ultimately two prompts collided and froze the game completely. Players who may have been able to obtain a free Blue Pony Foal from the Blue Pony who emerged from my Nursery Barn will be unable to do so as the post froze on the screen and nothing I did could persuade it to publish.

Just as well perhaps. I am growing increasingly weary of seeing my own Facebook 'wall' clogged with messages from Farmville even though I play the game less than Fantasy Kingdoms or Lovely Farm.

I am not the only player who is becoming disgusted with Farmville's endless suggestions to send Gems or Fuel or other specific Gifts to Neighbours and Friends either. What is particularly pernicious about this is the fact that much of the information is inaccurate. The game informed me that another player desperately needed a Nail for his Stable when in fact the Neighbour did not even HAVE a Stable, either in the process of being built or one that had been completed. Useless Gifts sent to a Neighbour are an annoyance and a waste of time and effort both for the sender and the recipient. As for suggestions that a Player post information to ANOTHER Player's Wall about a game... it really is not appropriate, especially if the player is some one who essentially abandoned all interest in the game.

Recently, I have noted the appearance of a Pregnant Sow generated by Farmville on players' farms. This is a cute little Pig with a rattle who simply is dropped onto a player's farm. When you click on it, it tells you that the Sow is pregnant and that it belongs to a specific player. You are asked to post information about the 'missing' Sow on the designated player's wall. This is all false information, by the way. The designated 'owner' never owned a pregnant sow and, should you click on the post once it appears on the player's wall, you will be taken to a special site where you will be asked to take surveys and interact with other advertising media. The Pregnant Sow is perilously close to a virus in my view. I find the whole business rather despicable and I do apologise for attempting to return the first one I encountered to its 'owner'. At that point, I did not realise how the programme operated and genuinely thought that the 'owner' was missing a pregnant pig.

Many players are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the volume of nonsense generated by Farmville and Frontierville, both Zynga games. Facebook account holders may not be dedicated gamers in many cases, but it is utterly wrong to suppose that they are idiots who could not find their own way out of a paper bag! There is no need for arrows and prompts telling a player what to do next in a farming simulation game. It takes much of the fun from the game. When a game clamours endlessly for a place on a player's Wall, it becomes less attractive as well. Most people have OTHER reasons for being on Facebook. It is quite possible that they would like to post genuine information about their own lives or the lives of family and friends. There is nothing wrong with the idea of playing games on Facebook and indeed I enjoy the option myself, but when it becomes burdensome and swamps everything else, I begin to consider the option of jettisoning the programme completely.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally hate these wall-to-wall posts that Zynga has started. It is obnoxious, and the only option is to block ALL users from posting to my wall!