Andy's Workshop

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

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Thursday 1 December 2011

Lots Of Little Pies Or One Big One...?

This has been a subject I've so far avoided talking about, firstly because it's not funny and I prefer to have a joke, secondly because it's a very divisive issue and thirdly because usually I'm either described as a Zynga Stooge or criminally Anti-Zynga, often both of them at the same time.

But, I've decided to do it. I'm going to blog about Horseshoes.

I think, in our lucid moments, we all agree Horseshoes, Crowns, Farm cash etc is a necessary evil. It's how Zynga make their money and it's what keeps the game alive. No shoes, no money, no Frontierville, they're a business.

A world where everything is available for easily obtained coins is a cute little utopian thought but unrealistic (as I fear, are most utopian ideas... yes, I'm a cynic.)

But what I do often wonder is whether Zynga might be better served looking at having lots of little slices of lots of different pies, and not a few larger slices of one big pie.

Let me explain without food related analogies... Every time I look at the prices of stuff in the market or when Limited Edition animals come out, one thought comes to mind, "too expensive".

[Boring bit, I'm going to use UK Pounds... for reference £1 = US$1.57 | C$1.60 | Aus$1.54 | 1.17 Euros]

Now, at the moment Horseshoes cost 8-10 pence per Shoe (unless you buy the daft 1000 pack, then it's just over 7) and because I'm disturbingly sensible about money, that's the way I tend to think of it.

Take these new Australian limited edition animals for example. Altogether they cost 200 Horseshoes which ranges from £14 - £20 depending on which package you bought. Now me, personally, that's a little above my "impulse buy" threshold.

How about some other "real world" prices for market items?

Pardoned Turkey - 100HS - £7-£10
24 Hour Master Farmer Boost - 130HS - £9 - £13
Melons - 2HS each - 14p-20p each (they're like Pringles, who'd only have one?)
Dr Cluck - 80HS - £6-£8
Gold Fountain - 60HS - £4-£6

How about the most expensive item in the market? The Jungle Gym is 250 HS, that's £18 - £25 for that one decoration.

To me, even though I agree with the IDEA of Horseshoes, this doesn't seem to tally up with real life when I look at the actual COST, not in fantasy money but real money.

If those items in the market were for real cash, there is no way I'd even look at them. My working life is not going so well that I could sit and think "couple decorations, couple animals, field of Melons... yeah, it's only 100 quid or so..."

I will happily admit I have an impulse buy limit, and I do buy add-ons etc for games from the Playstation Network (my other gaming platform) but for ME, a single item in a game needs to cap at about £1-£2 at most.

To provide some balance, some things in the Market DO go under that, and are what I'd suggest are ok pricing. Badgers for example are 5HS each, and 30p-50p is what I'd call a sensible-ish price for an item like that, but even then... I'd say to reach most impulse buy limits you should probably get a couple for that money.

And so, finally, to the point. In marketing you have a couple ways of selling things.

If you make something big and exclusive, millionaire playthings (luxury yachts, sports teams, Bugatti Veyrons) you can afford to make them expensive and aim for an exclusive clientèle.

On the other hand if you make normal things (toy boats, sports video games, Fiat Puntos) you look more at smaller profit margins and mass sales.

You're pretty much choosing between expensive to a few people, or affordable to many.

To me, I think Zynga need to lean a LOT more towards the second option, and they might find it pays them in the end.

Ask yourself this question: Which is better, one person spending £50, or ten people spending £5?

Hands up who said the one person...

Hands up who said they're both the same...

Hands up who said the ten people...

Congratulations to the last group, they're the right ones. Even though the gain at that time is exactly the same, those 10 people may well return, they may well tell friends, they may well suggest to others to go spend money.

Even if the cost of horseshoes stayed the same, my own view is Zynga could see an upturn if they just became a little more sensible with their pricing. Instead of 200 Horseshoes total for the LE animals, what about 50? Instead of 250 HS for the Jungle Gym, what about 25?

Give us more for our money.

Buying items in games like this is almost 100% impulse. Like grabbing a chocolate bar in the supermarket or ordering that Green Day CD you find marked down on Amazon. Just like impulse buys the more you do it, the more addictive and easy it becomes.

Give people quick, simple cheap ways to spend horseshoes and it becomes easy to click here for a badger, there for a boost, anywhere for a mission requirement. I'm talking things that cost one or two horseshoes. Yes, I'll use the phrase again, IMPULSE BUYS.

Zynga get more people buying horseshoes which will likely level out the difference in prices and we get more boosts, decorations and cute animals to play with. Win-Win scenario.

There aren't that many types of Horseshoe person, the types are:

Will buy it no matter what - These people will continue to buy Horseshoes, whatever happens. They won't go away if Zynga make them cheaper, in fact it's more likely they spend the same money. Most folks I know don't buy Horseshoes for a specific reason, they're just a treat they buy for themselves each month or so.

Won't buy at all - Zynga can totally ignore the this set of people in marketing considerations. Some folks just won't buy at all. Anything from these folks is a bonus, but I'll tell Zynga something for certain. You won't get them to spend by keeping things the same.

Would buy if it was cheaper - Ding, ding, round one. Here's the market in the middle that would be the place to look because THIS is where extra buys would come from. Group one won't stop, group two won't start, Group three is undecided.

I would argue a lot of group three people would look at horseshoes if everything in the Market that's desirable wasn't so damn expensive.

So, Zynga, let me appeal to your capitalism if nothing else.

What do you have to lose by dropping the pretty daft prices on a lot of market items? What it won't do is stop people who currently buy shoes from buying them. What it CAN do is make new people buy them.

Horseshoes are necessary, we get that. But they also don't have to be an expensive plaything.


  1. Hear hear!


  2. Here here,, Andy. It's been my point for years. You will sell more if its cheaper to a wider audience...but no one listens to me :)

  3. Im totally agree with you, horsshoes are very expensive and 10 people spending 5 dollar on horseshoes are just as good as one spending 50 dollar and the game is more fun to play because you can buy the few things you like on your homestead.

  4. Well Said Andy. Oh fountain of knowledge on all ftv/pt things!

  5. I agree with you Andy, if things were alot cheaper i would consider parting with my hard earned dollar. I have a problem with paying so much hard cash for something that effectively "doesnt exist", if we are to go into a shop and buy something, we can take it home. What we are REALLY buying is a picture on the internet.

  6. Good for you Andy, I totally agree on lower prices for items. McDonalds makes their money on affordable food items and the volume of customers makes them a ton of money.

  7. Here here very well said!!!

  8. i would really like some pls

  9. well said Andy. I agree 100%

  10. most definitely agree!

  11. how very true, well said

  12. Here, here, Andy. You said and wrote what alot of us were thinking Thank you. Maybe Zynga will get it now.

  13. Hahaha!! I totally agree with you Andy..... Everything is exact.. My problem with buying some of the items that require game play to actually gain from such as the 1 hours Double Mastery... @ 80% off a day ago for 2 horseshoes you could get this and get nothing done because of the constant refreshing... YEP a huge waste... The Aussie Animals to me are a joke.. Would I love to have them, maybe, but not that bad to spend that kind of money... Here is what I would be willing to do... Don't laugh... I would pay them 200 horse shoes to fix the game so I can play it without the constant problems that are daily... Refreshing, a game just got better??? Says who?? I never say that when I am refreshing for the 100th time in an hour or two... Now don't get me wrong, when something screws up YES Zynga has pretty decent support, but with all of the screw up's they should... *Wink* *Wink* I want a smooth running game that is worth paying the horse shoes for.. LOL Now give me that option Zynga and I will be willing to spend my shoes.... *EvilGrin* Lisa Trepper

  14. "Give us more for our money." Succinct and timely. I thought the same thing on the new animals. What benefits do they provide for my dollars (or pounds)? Do I really care that my frontier is decorated nicely? It is not like someone is actually coming over to visit, or be impressed. If I spend real money for HS, I need a benefit as a result; a value for my dollar.

  15. I agree with you Andy things should be cheaper ,and yes more people would buy and tell there friends..

  16. i like your blog on the horseshoes issue. i think you said what everybody else is thinking. zynga might not like it but i think a lot of the players will agree you are correct :)

  17. Very good idea, some people can't afford the grand prices for such small items. Hope Zynga takes this into consideration.

  18. I sure agree with you, Andy!!

  19. Totally agree... One other thing...let me buy something with my 10 million credits.

  20. WTG Andy! I agree. A mix of lowering the price of items -- AND offering some items for coins would appease a lot of angry players. The need to spend 250 horseshoes for the latest release of animals is too pricey!

  21. I agree with Andy (nice to see you with your claws unsheathed) and Lisa. Give me a game that actually works and I might, just might, pay-to-play. And as far as Support goes, lately they are abominable. However, if you are reading the news about Zynga you can understand. They treat their employees as poorly as they treat their game players. And this with a multi-billion IPO just around the corner.
    So that is my rant for the day. Sorry for using this a my soap box Andy.

  22. wonderful commentary. of course you this is a just wonderful site that I look forward to every day. no complaints just appreciate you

  23. Andy I totally agree with you. When I decide to purchase HS I look for how it will help me in my game. The items are secondary, because they take up space and are seasonal. Lower the price, boost your sales.

  24. I agree on all Andy said, and Brian Wilkins made a good point, as did Lisa Trepper. I spend my horseshoes very sparsely, and no way am I spending 200 horseshoes just so I can get a cute koala, but the bigger problem is this - support tells me the reason I am having so many game refresh requests is I have too many decorations!! Zynga wants me to spend money on them but they are going to ruin my game play - does this make sense to anyone??

  25. I agree with your reasoning on all of the above. However if you read the news you will see that the top brass at zynga are tyrannical, money hungry and profit driven. Supposedly the working conditions are so perverse that after zynga completes their I.P.O. quite a few of their employees plan to cash out their stock options and leave. If that is the case, I doubt they will drop prices for us lowly players. Heck, I would pay horseshoes to not have other games shoved down my throat.

  26. Patricia Costello1 December 2011 at 14:40

    Well I would appreciate being able to buy horse shoes, but with all the game problems that I have been having, like planting lemon trees and then it not counting against my lemon mission because it has reset 3 times on me... just isn't right. Now instead of having almost all my lemon trees done, I have to start over with the 3 lemon tree gifts that I just received...

  27. All this talk of pies Andy has made me hungry lol....but seriously I agree totally with your thinking....give better value for money/horseshoes and the masses will buy...or at least moan less about how much everything costs... lol :)

  28. Doesn't Zynga sell advertising? I have a ton of ads running down the right side of my page. If Facebook is making all the money, shouldn't they share with Zynga? I'm a little old lady out here in the midwest with barely enough money to pay for internet. I don't buy virtual horseshoes. I can barely afford real shoes.

  29. Andy, you have put into writing what alot of us have been saying for a long time. Yes Zynga is a business out to make money, but, if they were more sensible about things, they would possibly gain alot more people buying HS, myself included. After all, if it comes down to a weekend joint of meat or a virtual animal, there are no prizes for guessing which one would win every time

  30. Great blog. I'm proof of your argument. Knock the price down by 80% and I might buy. Of course, all the horseshoes I have came for free, but that's beside the point. I'm hesitant to spend them anyway.

  31. Well Said Andy! I just love you...Always like your comments..Have a wonderful day.

  32. I agree give us more for our money a lot of Sr. play on facebook on a fixed income and can only afford a little bit. so lower the price and more can pay.

  33. hope this makes them think and act on this

  34. I would pay for exclusive crops, but not more animals. We already have so many of them cluttering up the homestead already. It looks sloppy and makes the game very slow. Things are so crowded already that any hope of actual decorating went out the window ages ago.

    Your points are all right on Andy.

  35. I absolutely agree with you, Andy. It would be a Win/Win for Zynga and for the gamers if they adopted your captitalistic approach. By doing so,EVERYONE WINS! Hope Zynga's ears are turning red. LOL Thanks for the most excellent blog.

  36. VERY WELL SAID!!! I totally agree, but they just can't get that through their heads, I buy alot of HS when they are on 50% off and use them to finish the REALLY annoying missions, and I have bought most animals, but they just get more ridiculous with each new thing they put out, and I hardly ever buy anything at farm anymore because for one the farm cash is RARELY on sale and the things a re just tooo ridiculous. They need to get real.

  37. Glad you took the plunge Andy. Zynga does need to make big changes with the horsehoes. I dont spend money on this game. Its a form of entertainment for me, but I get everything I need to play without spending money

  38. Good blog Andy !! I agree with your ideas. But you know, I am pretty tired spending real money to play a make-believe game. It would be easier to buy horseshoes if the game actually worked properly, so it's more fun to play !!!!! Why pay for a game that keeps having problems every 10 minutes and makes me anxious and frustrated. I can use my real money to buy real things that make me happy... hey, maybe an old fashioned Tin Roof Sundae !!! YEAH !

  39. TOTALLY AGREE!! I hope Zynga read this and act!! I've found their CS to be outstanding in the past couple of days but I agree with what others have said.....STOP WITH THE CONSTANT "Please report bug" grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

  40. Everyone is saying ZYNGA should do this and that( I most totally agree with you all) but good-god almighty ZYNGA is is entirely for profit only. We have all played their games, and probably spent much more than we ever thought we would. For the first year, I too didn't buy any horseshoes, but since they have made it almost necessary to buy to stay up with everyone else I too have spent alot. Try to get a new neighbor to help you out so you, hopefully, won't have to buy from ZYNGA, and guess what you see, a lot of beginners that need more than you do. I do help all of them, but it sure builds up an inventory that none of us want nor can get rid of. I truly wish all of our demands and pleads are heard. Now go ask your bank to change things you don't like about them. Bob C