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Aug 202012

This is an opinion piece written by my husband, whose adventures in Cityville have left him with an interesting opinion of Zynga. Hope you enjoy.


Zynga, our relationship is… complex.

Hi everyone,

Have you been watching Zynga lately? I am sure everyone is aware that Zynga did an IPO?

Are you also aware that their stock has slid to less than 3 dollars a share? It’s still falling too.

Now I am sure some people are overjoyed with this. Zynga, after all, HAS done some things to its customer base that some would consider…distasteful? (I best leave it at that I don’t want to get sued!) But I have to ask, if Zynga goes belly up, what are your plans?


That’s what this series of posts is all about. Because, believe it or not, WE can save or damn Zynga. We just need to decide if we want to or not.
Now personally, I am of the inclination that Zynga can be treated exactly like its little mascot. We’ll rub its nose in its mistake, hit it with a rolled up newspaper, and correcting its bad behavior, move on to a happy relationship of catch or something.

First I am going to explain what is going on with Zynga. They have some really unique problems.

Did you know that out of Zynga’s entire player base only about 1-3% of them pay for game items? Actually let me tighten that up. 1-3% buy enough stuff to make Zynga profitable. They are regular customers. The rest of us play for free, or spend cash so rarely that we don’t really contribute significantly to Zynga’s well-being. So they have a revenue problem. This problem is made worse by Facebook which has decided to hold up every gaming company who uses their platform for 30% of their revenue.

Zynga’s second problem is again…Facebook which is constantly changing how they handle their traffic. These changes often times mean you are not seeing what’s going on in Zynga games. You know that old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” It is the opposite for games. They need to constantly remind you to play them, and spend money, and please oh, please love me? (This paragraph here should give you an idea of why we now have Zynga.com as an independent game platform. Zynga would just love to be rid of Facebook.)

Zynga’s third problem is…lack of content, (oh look, another goal. Collect this, click that building, beg friends for something nobody cares about. Yay how exciting *yawn*), and their games. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but because of a quirk of fate almost all of Zynga’s games look like some other developers games. (Just coincidence, I’m sure) Their unique games have generally been…disappointing. Zynga has lived on “borrowing” core elements from other peoples games. They see no value in creating their own content so it should be no surprise that they do poorly at something they do not believe in.

In my opinion, these are Zynga’s 3 biggest problems. They have others but these 3 have to be managed for the company to succeed.
So, I have to ask again. How do you feel about Zynga? If they go away would you miss them? Do you want to fix their mistakes so they can be a happy and productive member of your household?
They can be like MY dog. I bet you didn’t know I was a dog person!

Heel boy! Heel!! Good boy, now shake.

Ok, getting back on track let’s talk about my first point.
Customers who pay. Zynga has started rolling out a new option for game cash. We’ve seen it in Cityville and some people have seen it in Café World. It is basically a recurring subscription. You pay 17 bucks a month and get 50 game credits a week, 50 energy a week, and a free expansion. (For Cityville at least. Misses Facegamer told me it’s like that for other games too) This is a nice start, but honestly falls short of acceptable. I use to play World of Warcraft. For 15 dollars a month I played that game so much it was like a second job. Zynga, you are NOT more compelling than World of Warcraft.
Zynga would be in great shape if they could get all their players to pay a monthly subscription, but they need to get this idea they are worth so much out of their heads. I’d say…5 bucks a month, and make the credits cross platform. (Which you should have done in the first place to convince people to try out your games.)
Would you pay 5 bucks a month for 200 game cash, 200 energy, and an expansion? Especially if this keeps Zynga around so you can keep playing their games?

Skipping my second point, let’s go to number 3: content.

Content and money go hand in hand. I would think a lot of people are tired of paying for the same content over and over again. (Oh look! Another house with a 1,100 population. Just like the 12 before it.) Zynga needs to understand the value of creativity. They need to think of new ways to express content. Here is a freebie from me to you Zynga. Short events, when Halloween starts have an event people can give to their friends. Pay 10 game credits and pick a friend. When your friend accepts some trick-or-treaters show up, and go from home to home trick-or-treating. A reward drops every once in a while for the friend to receive. Let the kids TP a house or 2. If you have monster homes let a monster chase the kids around the city. Make a nice little 1 minute event. I bet people will buy, and send these to their friends for the various holidays.

Zynga, you DESPERATELY need this kind of creativity. The game needs to be re-invigorated not only to keep people, but entice new people.
This is just 1 idea from me to you. I know your fans have tons others. Reach out to them and get their input. Hit the fan sites (Like this one! You know Zynga has never talked to us? I cry myself to sleep at nights. I feel so unloved.) Get someone whose only job is to talk to the fans where they go. I know you have your forums but seriously, it’s a weak outreach to the people who keep your game going. You should really kick it up a notch.

Now for the problem we skipped….the dreaded Facebook. I’m sure everyone knows Facebook has had an IPO as well? It started at 38 bucks! Currently Facebook is selling at … 20 dollars. A bargain right?

Not so much. 12% of Facebook’s revenue comes from Zynga. Zynga does not like Facebook. They want to be freeee. If Zynga does escape. Facebook’s stocks will sink even more. They have really stunted the growth of other game devs so when/if Zynga leaves, Facebook won’t have anyone to step into their shoes.

It’s sad when the big kids fight. 🙁

As I said before, Facebook skims 30% off the top of all games it hosts. A big slice of the pie. I believe they did this to boost revenue before their IPO. It was good for the numbers! Problem? It is really bad for everyone else.

This big bite out of profits is:

  1. Stunting growth for all the game designers.
  2. A driving force for companies (read Zynga) to bail on Facebook if at all possible.

I think when these chickens come home to roost Facebook will be trading at like 5ish dollars? How’s that for a prediction! I used my special algorithm to calculate this.

Of course, nothing is set in stone. Facebook and Zynga might kiss and make up (not!) Facebook might succeed in getting big in mobile (I have doubts) or something else might come along. As it is now though, I don’t think I’ll buy any Facebook stock any time soon.
Now the Facebook problem is out of our control, but not the content and money. So right now we need to decide. Do we like Zynga enough to have an intervention? To rub their noses in their mistake, and set them on the straight and narrow?

If we do we need to tell them “Hey Zynga! Go to 5 bucks and I’ll subscribe, and here is a good idea for you to use. Kick your game up a notch!”

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  220 Responses to “Opinion: We can save Zynga from Oblivion, but should we?”

  1. avatar

    I used to play games to de-stress but the way all Zynga games are going – i feel more stressed with the numerous – unending list of goals to be finished – if I ignore the goals and just continue playing there is no good feeling at the end for having achieved any targets. After working for a 10-12 hours daily I used to feel good to come home to a comfort zone where I could just relax and have some fun but in the past year the number of goals and the time limits have become ridiculous and though Zynga seems to be in a catch 22 situation I feel no pity for them. If they would not have messed up their games by overload of goals and time limits – they probably would have found more customers to purchase their ‘cash’ – and yes its true – most of their ‘free’ games are actually ‘developed’ from games which I have purchased and for that matter most of their games are similar to each other – similar goals and techniques in all. Saionara Zynga

  2. avatar

    I agree 100% I can’t tell you what I paid out in money and cards, lets just say a lot. I think cafe is a joke, you are playing for a stove which you can’t use, only 33 can be used and the stupid timed quest. RIDICULOUSE.,
    II love the games but the cash,Bring back when it was just fun games.

  3. I’m the first to admit I will not pay a monthly fee. I play Cafe World because so many of my friends play it, but I have also quit trying to make any goals either. I just take my time and feel free to work on whatever. The untimed goals have been my mainstay. And the game has become buggy enough that there are days where I don’t bother at all.
    Zynga may be the loudest about their games on Facebook, they are not the only gaming company out there, or attached with Facebook for that matter. (I might spend a ridiculous amount of time on MindJolt).
    I guess it would be different if they acted like they remotely care about their gaming base, but there have been interviews where Zynga pretty much admitted they don’t. The goals are repetitive, the rewards not exciting, but the problems in the game that never get fixed are a real issue.
    I guess I’m saying that for me, it doesn’t really matter if they stick around or not. Someone else will eventually take their place.

  4. I STILL play WoW. (Did so earlier today.) 🙂 I find myself putting more time there than I have in a while. It is stable and the updates try to keep things new’ish. Zynga needs to learn from this. Keep up the good fight. 🙂

  5. I’ve not been a big purchaser of cash, it kind of defeats the point of the game but recently I was tempted by an 80% off offer for Frontierville. Problem is they’ve done to their cash what the stock exchange has done to their shares, devalue them. If buying one item/component was 1 cash you might convince me. But as soon as they gave away 50 cash for a mammoth mission they devalued that cash by raising the cash price of all items. Frontierville horseshoes were one per item when I first started, now each item costs 7-8 cash. The same goes for cafeworld, they’ve devalued their cash so what’s the point in buying it?
    The games are riddled with errors/white screens/revert issues and the support is non existant, i’m all for letting Zynga fall flat on it’s face these days. There are other better games.

  6. avatar

    I agree with all that has been said. I am tired of asking for the same things over and over again and getting no where. If Zynga would fix all their problems I’d enjoy it a LOT more. I will NOT pay for a game that is riddled with problems. I do enjoy the games and hope they will stay around but with a lot less bugs.

  7. have you sent this to Zynga? sometimes they ask questions,, but I really think , they dont read the answers,,

  8. avatar

    Former WoW player myself! Used to enjoy the 25-man raids as an elite hunter!
    But when Cataclysm came out and all of my elite gear instantly became worthless I stopped playing and paying.
    I’ve finally reached that point with Zynga games.
    I am a tree addict in FarmVille, and can’t even guess how much money I have invested in all of those virtual trees.
    In Cafe World I belong to a group that’s been together for over 2 years. It’s amazing how close you can get to online friends that you’ve never met in real life. We’ve gone through illnesses, births and deaths, travel, moves, and all sorts of real-life events together! Some of us have actually met during travels. We’ve talked on the phone, and we’ve logged in for each other when someone had to go to the hospital or was traveling and didn’t have internet access.
    My point is that we have really grown close and we don’t want to lose this daily connection.
    But we are ALL totally fed up with Zynga’s endless impossible timed goals, and the unspoken demand that you WILL spend $$ or you will FAIL all of the missions. Therefore we are all actively searching for a non-Zynga game that will still offer fun and communication. And if it isn’t on Facebook that’s even better, since FB is likely to disappear the same way MySpace did.
    If anyone has any suggestions, PLEASE let us know.
    I would much rather pay $15 per month, as I did with WoW, and play a game that doesn’t force you to constantly beg for virtual items from neighbors and purchase things like energy and spices.
    (I have NEVER understood a game requiring energy! And I’ve told Zynga that in feedback MANY times! Wouldn’t they want you to play all day long? Some games I can’ only play for a half-hour before I run out of energy. Then I go do something else for a few hours and come back when my energy is restored. How stupid is that on their part?)
    Also… one last note.
    You mentioned the devaluation of game cash. No where is it more blatant than in Cafe World. They sell bundles of spices, and the price and quantities has not changed since I first started playing the game. For example, you can buy 100 6-hour-thyme for 75 Cafe World Cash (if I remember correctly). Well, once upon a time 100 spices was a lot… when we had 30 burners or so, and goals required 15 or 20 of each dish to be cooked. Now we have over 200 burners, and they require up to 110 dishes at a time for the goals. So those 100 spices aren’t worth nearly as much as they used to be!

    • Try clubpogo it is 39.99 for 1 year subscription. They have weekly badges and you can win badges just for playing the games. They have alot of games from solitaire to word search. Think you might like it if you do sign up look for me KMGSN1995.

    • I like you’re comment about friends made. It is the same with me, makes it hard to say goodbye to the game. I keep playing but I will NOT spend good money anymore on something that amounts to nothing. I play for the friends and loves that is all. And yes I did say loves, I met the love of my life through cafe world although I may never be able to actually touch her as she lives a quarter of the world away. I do actually love her. Although that seems so crazy, I would have though so a year ago.

  9. Very, very well said. Let’s just hope they take notice.

  10. If they start charging I guess I will be quiting. I use to play all the Zynga games fv, ft, mw,pv,fv,cw, just to name a few .then they got to changing things every few days
    if you went on vacation you were so far behind you could not catch up or the game had changed so much you had no ideal what was going on.
    I have always said I would never spend real money to buy fake money when there are so many people out of work and children going hungry. I mostly play cafe world and like that it does not have to have energy and it is the most social. I like it a lot just the way it is EXCEPT the timed events push to hard and really stress me out IF you work you are up the creek with out a paddle. I am a 24/7 care giver for my husband and enjoy playing but I guess I can find something else to do with my time . Thank you Zynga for the fun while it lasted..

  11. I used to be one of those regular cash players. I didn’t mind paying for this, that or the other, because I enjoyed playing Cafe World and Farmville. THEN the creativity in the game play left the building as did a game that functioned properly. I spent over 2 months arguing with Zynga that it was NOT my computer being the reason Cafe World wouldn’t load, but something in their game coding on my account. I was belittled, ignored and finally started a second account. Guess what? It worked! ZyngaIdiots! I have now totally quit Cafe World, but find the technical issues in the Zynga games I play are increasing. Chefville and Hidden Chronicles both freeze constantly, play very slowly and have other problems. Once again, I’ve been told it’s my machine at fault. I actually teach the use of Flash professionally and how to develop games, so my machine is state of the art and totally equipped to handle gaming. When Zynga gets its act together, offers a working product and competent customer support I’ll consider paying a monthly fee. Until then based on what they’re offering? I’ll live on happily with the demise of ZyngaIncompetency.

  12. I have blocked anything having to do with Zynga. Personally, I would like to see both Facebook and Zynga face extreme financial problems. I believe, if they have not already, all their games will switch to paying more money to play. That is their current platform: make players payers. I beg of you, remove your Cafes if you are not playing. Those who are playing are having a hard enough time to find players to beg from. Also, before blocking Zynga and their games, make sure you remove the fact that you “like” them. There are lots of games out there. I would also like to thank Facegamer for all the help they have given me in the past.

  13. Know what I would pay a monthly fee for? A site like this one was before they killed it! Perhaps that’s why they have put a stop to the sites that helped with goals? Maybe they are going to offer us a help site, but for a fee? I hope so, because they have made it harder on their tried and true players by killing these help sites. I’d pay a reasonable fee to use one. I hope Zynga reads here.

  14. Z is just a bunch of dope heads looking for the next ounce, getting more and more out of control.

  15. avatar

    Agree with most all stated. I only started Cafe World a few months ago and I have spent so much money you would think they would show some appreciation – NOT. When I’ve had a problem their idea of solving it is to give me some items for a totally unrelated quest. One even stated simply that she was sorry I was not enjoying the game – no offer to help with the problem at all. I decided I would either not do timed quests or I simply would take what I got and not even try to finish them – got enough stoves anyway. I was shocked after 3 big quests that the only real prizes are more stoves. I already bought more 50% stoves than I can use because of the 90% off deals.
    Now, without FaceGamer the goals, even simple ones are impossible. I have been 5 days getting 5/14 items using their “post” feature – where are they posting them? I know my few friends send all gifts they can every day. It almost feels as if I do worse on these because they have me pegged as a “spender” and figure if I don’t get items I’ll buy them. Not any more. I will keep my cafe only to help out friends that still want to play.
    I still love FarmVille but their recent $10 monthly deal was not explained honestly at all! Their sample shows you getting 2 FC for 10000 coins. Actually you get 4 of each – 6@25000, 7@100000, 8@500000, and 9@3,000,000! So, spend $10 for the privilege of trading 14,500,000 coins for 120 FC. Going to cancel my subscription before 1st month is up. At least the stress level is low with FV but they’ll probably change that soon.
    Oh, the reason all these games and maybe FB is going broke – I attempted to purchase a 50% off deal. It did not work and I emailed. They informed me that 1/2 price is not the same as getting double FC for the money. So I asked – if I buy 2 1/2 price deals do I not get twice as many goods as buying one at full price? They have NOT responded (two weeks now – no chance they will respond).

  16. I used to play farmville a lot but after a while, I’d get tired of it. It would also crash my computer or make it so the framing was extremely low that the whole comp lagged. I was on it maybe once a few months ago. I still have the app saved but I’ve rarely been playing it at all.

    There was a point where I would have no one playing the game but when I found a few more people who played, my gift folder would blow up with requests for items and gifts. I found that to be annoying. There needs to be a better way to make the requests/gift folder a little easier to manage.

    I’ve only tried cityville a couple of times but I decided that it was not worth the time. Never played mafia wars. I was on and off with cafe world or whatever that game was. I was going to be a tester for blingville but that never happened. I have no idea what happened with that production. All and all, I’m not huge into zynga anymore, let alone many games going on within fb,

  17. I think Zynga is just pissed off that hardly any of their game players are spending real money on their games, but alot are “donating” to the help sites! As far as I’m concerned, Zynga can go belly up anytime, my life would by far better without them and their stupid games!

  18. avatar

    I oftentimes wonder if they’re even worth saving I mean what have they done for me lately? Other than give me a headache (that I could definitely do without) I stopped playing Farmville when I finally came to the realization that it was more trouble than it was worth Cityville became a hassle I mean it’s like all their games have at lest one flaw or another. And I’m getting sick and tired of the of the bugs and error issues and the fact you have to keep running out of energy and as if that wasn’t bad enough you can only hold a certain amount of energy boosts (depending on which game your playing) so if your friends give you more than the limit you loose the extras and in Hidden Chronicles they limit the amount times you can even use the energy boosts that your friends give you. I’d hate to see Zynga go but if don’t fix these issues sometime soon I might just have to say goodbye.

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