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I must admit I am no stranger to Zynga games like Farmville and Cityville (although for obvious reasons I have ceased to play Farmville, a fate I worry will eventually befall my current Cityville days). That being said I still find certain aspects of the game, like city planning to be immersive and at times quite satisfying. If so, then why in the world do I feel frustrated with a Zynga game over 50% of the time I play one?
As a serious gamer, you fall in love with a certain aspect of a game and you want more of it. In Cityville that would mean more custom building options for me. City planning is obviously the most engaging and individualistic part of experiencing that game so why doesn’t Zynga turn the dial up a notch?
Well, for one there seems to be a serious imagination deficit at Zynga. Instead of placing their focus on creating good content, the company instead has seemingly geared all its efforts on making money. Relying on money is important, but when it fails to run in tandem with creating things of value you know you have a disaster looming.
Zynga’s micro-payments system is unfortunately too integral to the structure of how their games are built. Instead of being used as an additional feature, micro-payments are designed in the game mechanics in such an arduous way that it becomes the scaffolding of your gaming experience. If people like myself continue to eventually turn away from Zynga games, it won’t be because those games lived out their natural life span, but rather it’ll be because the gaming experience ended up being flawed and unfulfilling. Dont get me wrong, I am more than happy to financially compensate the creators of a game i enjoy playing. The problem is in the way these games are designed to make money from the ground up.
Instead of rewarding gameplay, Zynga games reward users who do one thing and one thing only, assisting Zynga in making more dough for its investors.
Full disclosure. I am not particularly popular on facebook. I have around 60 friends, only a handful of which play Cityville. No matter how much time I spend playing that game I can never catch up with most of my neighbors, who in turn have no problem leveling their cities up because of their own abundance of neighbors. Its particularly lame because I know that I play more than they do and quite honestly, most of them are owners of aesthetically horrific cities. The reason behind having such a large magnitude of ugly cities could be attributed to Zynga’s unfair reward system. Here’s why. Instead of smart expressions of city planning, most players will hoard every in-game item available to them to create larger cities, an outcome only compounded by the fact that most of those same players have more neighbors, thus more ability to splurge and less incentive to be creative.
Zynga might seem like it is on top of its game right now. There is no doubt that they tapped into the social gaming revolution at the right time and maximized their profits as a result. However they very well might lose out to other game developers who create content that is both richer and more rewarding for the player. In the meantime i will continue to watch my city grow (albeit slower than it deserves), while i keep an eye out for credible Zynga competitors.