Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Thursday 23 June 2011

The Business of Pleasure

Let's start this blog off with a nice simple statement that most folks may agree with.

Zynga will sometimes do things we don't like.

It's that simple and I imagine there's many folks out there nodding their heads and reaching for pitchforks and flaming torches but bear with me a moment.

Some of those things are just gaming choices, such as creating a mission lots of people got angry about when they were told by other people they should get angry (What I call the Daily Mail or Fox News Effect). Or how about a simple scripting issue such as Hank and Fanny getting married and Bess getting with Flintlock?

With that sort of thing we're merely at the whim of the scriptwriters and game designers in much the same way as we have no say in who gets married in our favourite soap opera or who dies in the latest movie we've rented. We're playing a storyline that's being written for us.

Some things, however, can be simply explained away due to the oft forgotten fact that Zynga are a business, and this seems to often be the problems folks seem to find hardest to grab.

Take for example the current issue brought up by the recent Rodeo missions, to finish the Rodeo you need to send a request to a non-neighbour. They just have to click on it, then can just delete it and begone... and yet this has caused rather a lot of consternation among players.

Let's ignore the fact pretty much all of us should have a friend or family member who won't mind a single request on Facebook and look at the basic business reason for doing this.

When I thanked everyone yesterday for helping us reach 10k members I pointed out the fact we never would have got anywhere without word of mouth, without people sharing the page, telling their friends, getting us out there.

Well, Zynga need this as well, and unlike us, this is their livelihood, they're a business. All of you put your hand on your heart and ask yourself how often you've posted a status or a link saying "this is a great game, come play it!"

Anyone? Hands up? Thought so.

We just don't do that with Facebook games very often, so for things like Frontierville to thrive it needs it's own way of getting out there into the wider public who may not be aware of it. It needs the brag posts on walls, it needs neighbour requests, it very occasionally needs us to ask someone who doesn't play, TO play.

We're lucky with FTV, it's a game that can be played perfectly with just a half dozen good neighbours as opposed to many Zynga games which promote having lots of neighbours, such as Mafia Wars, with a distinct advantage to number of neighbours.

That in itself leads to it's own problems for Zynga, with the ability to set up privacy lists meaning folks who aren't interested in the game never have to see posts about it they occasionally (and it's been an EXTREMELY rare occurrence in the year it's been active) will ask us just to reach out and invite someone new.

Hell, we do it ourselves when we run a like/share contest... the difference is we're not keeping track of member numbers to be able to sell advertising. If someone wants to cross promote using Zynga (such as Intuit or Rango) then one of the main things when pricing it up will be "how many people will this reach?"

The more people on the list, the more money they make, the more likely we are to see a more stable game (hire more developers etc) and new game features.

Of course the other issue is the cry of "they want us to buy horseshoes!" that springs up when something tricky or time consuming is brought in.

Well, the simple answer for that one is... yes, yes they do. HOWEVER, before folks get too excited, you very rarely HAVE to.

By my count we need a steady supply of horseshoes for one single thing in game, the Horseshoe Pit badge, because it requires us to make "paid" throws to get. I never spend horseshoes but I still have serious doubts whether I'd have enough for that badge... but, that's one thing.

Every other time it's usually the difference between completing something in 6 hours and completing it in 6 days, no other time in the game do we HAVE to buy horseshoes.

(I'm not even going to dignify with a response the silliness of the occasional suggestion glitches are deliberately put in or things are deliberately throttled from appearing just to make us buy shoes.)

That being said, they do want us to, of course they do. I want people to buy my art canvasses or hire me to photograph their event or make them a website, it's called business and that's what Zynga are. Complaining that they want us to buy horseshoes is like complaining that Yahoo make us look at adverts if we don't buy Mail Plus or that Walmart/Asda want us to buy the more expensive stuff they sell, it's what they do.

Yes, yes, we may not like it but we all secretly know if it was up to us the game would be self contained, no bragging, no asking, no requesting... some folks might even want a daily mission that was nothing more than harvesting 5 clover. This is because we are all selfish, me included, and we want the game to work for us, in exactly the way we want it to work.

Unfortunately to do that, we sorta need to go write our own game, and I dunno about you but me? I'm not that good... and if I was I'd want to share it around. And get people to tell their neighbours about it. Funny that.

We all, as players, will have a complain now and then, I do it, you do it, everyone does it. But we also need to remember that Zynga aren't just here to make us happy, they're here to make us happy... and make money, it's what a business does.


  1. Well said (once again) Andy! I couldn't agree with you more.

  2. I totally agree. Can only visit a few neighbours before getting the exclamation mark of death .... LOL I buy HS if it's going to take days. I don't have the slightest problem with that. They are a business and they provide a great game - I think of it as one of my hobbies!!

  3. Don't forget, FrontierVille is still in beta.

  4. Out of all the zynga games frontiersville is my favorite. I dont have alot of neighbors but get missions done and never bought one horseshoe yet. I get upset at mission glinches, but for free and fun, you cant beat it. Thanks Zynga, keep the missions coming.

  5. Great blog, everything you pointed out is dead on!! I am thankful never having had to purchase horseshoes, and Zynga has come thru a few times when I needed the help - Thanks for a great game, I just can't stay mad, LOL

  6. Gets aggravating sometimes but love my game...

  7. That was all well said and I agree. It's a game, not a matter of life and death.. a glitch happens maybe it's our cue to go really do something.. like fix dinner.... lol. And not all the problems are zynga.. remember it's a computer. they always have problems.. it could be your server having issues.. it could be facebook. If it's not working right.. get off for a few minutes.. that usually fixes mine. As for asking for something from a non neighbor.. it's no big deal. They don't HAVE to do it and you can ask someone else. One of your friends will do it. As for complainers... remember they are still here playing.. how bad can it be? lol Have fun and good luck with the new mission.

  8. I don't buy horseshoes and WON'T buy horseshoes for a facebook game. I will quit playing before I do that. I really hate that we have to spam our friends (especially friends that don't play) to do missions. That to is also enough to make me quit.

    It is afterall just a game, and while it can be fun, I get more enjoyment from reading a book.

  9. Its a game, a great one at that, no need for anyone to get in an uproar over things. As for the adding a new player to get an item just add a new friend, we all could use a few new neighbors to help us on our missions!