Zynga and the Rise of the New Gamer

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Mcface:

dogstile:

Mcface:

dogstile:

Mcface:
But how can you defend them against real gaming devs, with real gamers voting for them?

That slightly bothers me, because you can't define a real gamer. You can define a hardcore gamer, but just a gamer in general? Hell naw

Uh, yes. Someone who plays video games.
Zynga's "games" are in fact, applications, a blatant rip off of another at that.

A "casual" gamer would play video games casualy, or stick to wii titles, the sims, what have you. But that still makes them a gamer, they play video games.

Playing Mafia Wars does not make you a gamer. At all.

Really? Does that mean people who use the Iphone to play their phonegames not gamers? Even though alot of them clearly put in time and effort?

If someone sat around and played nothing but Iphone? No I wouldn't consider them to be a gamer. Are there browser based games? Yes. Are there cellphone games? yes.

Zynga is a spreadsheet with some Microsoft paint colors. It is in no way a video game.

If you say so. There's no way to convince and to be honest I don't care anymore

Susan Arendt:

jmoore4ska:

Susan Arendt:

Josh Heinrichs:
Valve would be dominating if they pulled the same shit Zynga is. The creators of Steam, Counter Strike: Source and Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead not to mention all their other games amazing games that still all have dedicated communities. If they had a little icon that said: Go vote for us! on those programs, Zynga wouldn't stand a chance.

They put it into the Steam launcher, does that count?

Hm, are they offering items to their users for getting them a win?

Edit: the source of this image is admittedly not confirmed, as it isnt mine.

It's fake. Zynga is not offering items in exchange for votes. We checked. And then we checked again.

Offering items for votes is strictly against the rules. If Zynga did that, they would immediately be disqualified. It's pretty clear that they want to win, so they're not going to be so stupid as to break the one rule the developers are given regarding appealing to their audiences.

Wrong post

I think the Wii, DS, and games like MW2 have done a fair bit to integrate the untouched markets. If they made a truly good CoD on the Wii, you'd hook them for life, and start them on the path to buying the more complicated games. Although I can't even imagine gaming being complicated!

ciortas1:
There was something said about Zynga catering to people who "aren't already gamers", which is only partially true. I can guarantee - I can let you cut off my hand if I'm wrong - that they aren't catering to people who "aren't already gamers", but rather people who "never will be gamers" in the first place. Yes, sure, a few percent will, but that's it. I can guarantee you that.

John Funk:

Nick Wong:

That isn't to say we aren't interested in these things intellectually, in the same way we might be interested in new treatments for cancer or the progress of peace in Iraq. However, neither the cultural significance of their development and popularity nor the means by which they achieved them make Zynga a relevant or significant player in video games. In the same way, we could be interested in the explosion of Texas Hold'Em online Casino games and their impact socially or legally, and perhaps how they ruined someones life. Or perhaps the proliferation of video trivia at bars and wings restaurants. We might even be interested in the history of "hit the monkey" banner ads. However, no video gamer would really care about any of these things, because none of these things are what any discerning individual would call a video game.

How can you say that they're irrelevant to the industry when the Zynga VP is giving the keynote at GDC Canada, and the current at GDC Prime was basically "Whoa, look at Zynga?"

You don't feel they're relevant, and that's fine. Developers do.

Developers only feel they're relevant because Zynga made a ton of money from people who can't use Paint properly. Also, I can understand you editors trying to be neutral everywhere, but really, what do you honestly feel?

Also, since I'm not a game developer, I wouldn't be including game developers when I say "We" statement. If game developers want to learn something from Zynga's business practices, or if they want to let them speak at a keynote, that has absolutely no bearing on my or other gamers interest in their products.

When I say Zynga is not a significant player in the game industry, I mean, I don't come home wracked with indecision on playing Famville or Mafia Wars. I have to decide between Final Fantasy XIII, God of War III, and World of Warcraft. This is because I play video games and Zynga doesn't make video games.

Susan Arendt:
It's fake. Zynga is not offering items in exchange for votes. We checked. And then we checked again.

Offering items for votes is strictly against the rules. If Zynga did that, they would immediately be disqualified. It's pretty clear that they want to win, so they're not going to be so stupid as to break the one rule the developers are given regarding appealing to their audiences.

Dang shops. Although from the looks of the farmville forums, i bet their fans wish forum spamming by the developers was against the rules as well, heh.

Love your stuff, by the way.

I thought the article made a lot of very good points, but it omitted the other barrier: the "hardcore" gamers that look down their noses at the "casual" gamers. Here's a tip: just because you don't think it's fun doesn't mean that it's awful, not a game, or that other people can't find it fun.

Farmville is popular because its actually a form of robotic mind control:

http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html

Shamus Young:
It means that years of advertising hardcore games to hardcore gamers in hardcore gaming communities has made the hobby far more insular than it needs to be. The next move should be to see what other kinds of games these people might like to play.

Yeah you're definitely right, I mean why bother with hardcore games for hardcore gamers when everyone in the industry will be better off if companies screw their fanbases and appeal instead to non-gamers with oversimplified 'games' that are actually a level below flash games. Let's open up gaming to everyone and then it can be just as good as reality television!

Misleading marketing, shady business practices, mindless spam, malware and spyware wherever possible. There's very little praise to be put on Zynga and it's equivalents (like Evony for instance).

The people that play Zynga games simply have no idea of what else there's around, and Zynga does whatever they can to keep them hooked so that they don't go around looking.

I do find amusing the attempts of some writers to find ways to "praise" those kind of shady and shoddy businesses (I refrain from naming them "developers", because they don't really "develop" much, they mainly rehash) in order to appear "open minded" and somewhat hip.

This kind of games only feed themselves and have absolutely no bridging or connections with any other kind of gaming (even less core gaming, the metropolitan legend that they can lead to other forms of gaming is just that, a largely unproven legend that some people like to cuddle. Developers like Zynga try their very hardest so that it doesn't happen, because as soon as it does, they lose business).

Luckily zynga's been brutally kicked out of MM, that way people will stop talking about them and their half cooked pastimes sold as games for a while.

People who play Farmville aren't gamers. Just because they play a "game" doesn't mean they're gamers. It's nothing more than an overly addictive drug... I mean flash game.

I have to disagree with the point about the "high cost of entry". Yeah, maybe to a first time gamer, hitting the thumbstick for R3 might not be immediately obvious. But old school games were simple and straightforward, yet they didn't appeal to the average, non-gaming person.

Companies like Zynga and Popcap just came along at the right time.

There is a fine line between "casual" and "real" gaming.
It really annoys me when people play games like FarmVille and get the idea that they're gamers and are on the same level of us who play titles like Fallout, Half-Life, WarCraft, etc.
It's just like a 12-year-old thinking he's a "1337 hacka" after guessing the password to his friend's Facebook account.

Amen Shamus AMEN!

Mafia Wars is just addicting. I don't even know why I play it, but seeing numbers go up can get addictive... that's why people play grindy Korean MMOs.

The biggest flaw in MW (and probably other Zynga games) is its reliance on your friend count. You need 501 Facebook friends playing Mafia Wars to even have a chance at fighting the strongest players. It makes people create fake facebook accounts only to add other fake accounts playing Mafia Wars as friends, which is taking away the whole point of Facebook. Friends should still be able to help you, of course, but you shouldn't be required to have a fake account full of playing fake friends to be competitive.

Most Zynga players are not interested in playing games properly going by what I've seen on the forums, they think we are a bunch of violence obessed shutins who obessively polish our guns in our sleep then take them to work the next day.

I have no intention to berate anyone who plays Farmville or whatever they want on facebook. If that sort of game trips your anchor, then have fun! Play it all you want and I will support your right to do so.

On the other hand, what I DO want to remind people about is how Zynga got where they are and how they got the money to do what they are currently doing. They have outright copied other games Mob Wars->Mafia Wars for example. Others may include Restaurant City->Cafe World, Farm Town->FarmVille. Zynga is surrounded by advertising scams out the wazoo and the defendant in a class action law suit (over cell phone charges). They also used company logos and trademarks illegally. They were threatened by Nissan over illegal use of Nissan trademarks.

Yall need to wake up and realize EXACTLY what sort of company Zynga was (or may currently be). Zynga went out of its way to delve into the advertising and scam world and clearly has stolen game ideas. Whether it continues to do so is a question the industry needs to keep asking. Its not easy to turn away from this revenue stream once you have seen the profits it can yield. Zynga says they are moving away from this sort of behavior but do you trust a grizzly bear who says he only wants the chocolate bar in your pocket or do you cast a wary eye on him? Personally, I don't trust the bear (Zynga) until time proves him trustworthy.

All I am asking is you read the facts, read the history and KNOW the type of company Zynga is before you opt-in to the fanboy banter.

jak1165:
I have to disagree with the point about the "high cost of entry". Yeah, maybe to a first time gamer, hitting the thumbstick for R3 might not be immediately obvious. But old school games were simple and straightforward, yet they didn't appeal to the average, non-gaming person.

Companies like Zynga and Popcap just came along at the right time.

Do NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES lump PopCap with Zynga. PopCap is and always has been an above board company. Zynga has not been an above board company and has used ad scams to garner revenue.

Who Dares Wins:
you have to pay in FarmVille cash, which is worth as ordinary cash after it has been accidentally dropped in a volcano)

"Found a golden chicken? Post it on Facebook to Alienate Your Friends."

OT: As much as I resent Farmville, it may well serve to bring more people into the fold of gaming. It's quite an easy transition, and it could easily help to remove some of the stigma surrounding games at the moment.

Bigeyez:
I'm sorry, but the only reason Zynga is even a known name is Facebook. Without Facebook we wouldn't be talking about them right now. Without Facebook they would have 0 votes in March Mayhem. This isn't a case of passionate gamers rising up to vote for their game. This is the case of Zynga spamming all of Facebook for votes. This is NOT "the rise of a new gamer". This is a the rise of people who already spend hours looking at pictures on Facebook who decide to spend some time clicking stuff on a Facebook application. Zynga games are games the same way Reality TV is real.

I'm all for the Wii and companies like PopCap bringing the rise of GOOD casual gaming and introducing games to non gamers, but the last thing we need is to hold up a company to praise who steals peoples ideas, scams their own customers, and their only claim to success is being lucky and riding on the backs of the latest "it" social networking site.

^This is exactly what I was thinking. So much truth in this post.

Wolfiesden:

jak1165:
I have to disagree with the point about the "high cost of entry". Yeah, maybe to a first time gamer, hitting the thumbstick for R3 might not be immediately obvious. But old school games were simple and straightforward, yet they didn't appeal to the average, non-gaming person.

Companies like Zynga and Popcap just came along at the right time.

Do NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES lump PopCap with Zynga. PopCap is and always has been an above board company. Zynga has not been an above board company and has used ad scams to garner revenue.

On top of that, what PopCap makes are games. They are designed to be fun, to earn revenue. Zynga's are designed to be addictive, to earn revenue.

In fact, it's probably the demise of "real" casual or beginner genres, like the platformer (you need the jump button + arrows) and shooters (not FPSes, you need the fire button + arrows), that opened the door for companies like Zynga and Evony.

Saying Zynga's Farmville is a good game is like saying a pedophile is a good babysitter

It's just wrong. I hope this isn't the future of casual games, otherwise im going back to board games, humm snakes and ladders with a rewards point system and you need to get your friends involved to move up the board yes humm interesting yes

Arothel:
Insightful, as always.

indeed, if only the game industry was like that also.

I don't hate Zynga because of who plays it, I hate them because they admit to being scammers and act like tools at awards ceremonies.

TrueFact TM

I don't get it... I read the full article a few times and I still don't see how it makes people who continuesly return to do the same two things over and over while paying real money for it aren't as intellectual as hamsters running around a wheel for hours on end. Hell at least in MMOs you can talk to people and the game actually works. Besides they just stole their GAME, yes game theres only one and if you try to convince me a game is new because of new sparkly vampire wall paper then you can fuck right off, from a less dick like developer is just shameful

Zynga makes me want to do bad things to the people who created it. I'm a Computer Maintenance Technician, and the thought that someone -intentionally- used such a large social networking site, something that has exploded into this ridiculously massive domain, managed to not only scam most of the people who were playing their game into giving them their money through the use of spyware, malware, etcetera, and were then able to -get away with it after publicly announcing what they had done- makes me sick.

I'm sorry, but Zynga should not get any credit for being a good company. This is not the Rise of a New Gamer. This is just another sign of how far people will go for their greedy ambitions.

I think that we should start giving them a good transition into 'actual' games: First with flashgames, then Popcap, then Portal :D

Alar:
Zynga makes me want to do bad things to the people who created it. I'm a Computer Maintenance Technician, and the thought that someone -intentionally- used such a large social networking site, something that has exploded into this ridiculously massive domain, managed to not only scam most of the people who were playing their game into giving them their money through the use of spyware, malware, etcetera, and were then able to -get away with it after publicly announcing what they had done- makes me sick.

I'm sorry, but Zynga should not get any credit for being a good company. This is not the Rise of a New Gamer. This is just another sign of how far people will go for their greedy ambitions.

Indeed, if you want to see casual gamers on the rise go look at PoPcap games, Bejeweled, those point and click adventure games your mom plays.

Not Zynga. This bunch of scammers do nothing but push stolen games to people who need something to do while they spend all day on facebook. These are not gamers.

Amen to that, brother. I realized that gaming was becoming too complicated when my mom saw me playing Mario Kart: Double Dash!![1] with a friend and mentioned that she loved the game (referring to Mario Kart 64) but it was probably too complicated for her to play now. She was right. Some time ago I played Indigo Prophecy and was confused by how the tutorial teaches you to move your character using the right stick, which is something only needed for people who are only vaguely aware of what a controller is, then expects the player to quickly push the shoulder buttons in sucession. I doubt a non-gamer will ever aknowledge the shoulder buttons quickly enough.

And that's why the Wii is the most sold console, and that's why developers are insane to not go after it. I guess that they are spoiled with being able to do complicated stuff and get away with it, and wouldn't know how to work with a game in which they actually have to explain how each input works.

Mind you, I was rooting against Zynga for their poor business practices, not out of any phylosophical quandary. But I read your other article, and considered that before I booted up my browser I played a quick game of Dungeon Crawl, which looks like this, and decided you Shamus are my leader and prophet. Speak, and I shall obey.

[1] Yes, I always put all the needless punctuation signs in a title accordingly. And also put them in the abbreviation, i.e. MK:DD!!. And I also always make sure the apostrophe is correctly placed when I write Saints' Row. That's just how I roll.

...I like playing Cafe World and Farmville and now Treasure Isle...

Am I a horrible person for it? I just like harmless little flash games. They're something to do in addition to my web browsing.

Kyogissun:
...I like playing Cafe World and Farmville and now Treasure Isle...

Am I a horrible person for it? I just like harmless little flash games. They're something to do in addition to my web browsing.

Nothing wrong with that, something to do in addition to web browsing is fine.

But they aren't games. They are apps. There is a difference.

jmoore4ska:
Also, to reiterate: Zynga isn't popular because it is accessible. There are plenty of flash game developers who design good, simple, and entertaining free games. Zynga is just well known because it is on facebook and shamelessly spams the notifications and newsfeed of anyone who is friends with a player. If PopCap made a Facebook game, then made sure that it showed up in your feed 25 times a day or more, i'm sure they would get a lot of attention, at the expense of their integrity.

QFT!

Granted, you can hide the crap, but every time they make a new application, you have to hide that, too. Besides, it doesn't change the fact that it's immensely irritating.

Zynga doesn't even make "games". They make social-networking applications with a game interface, no different than that godforsaken "Find out what ______ said about you by signing up!" application that spams your FB page.

And no, this isn't "getting people into gaming" any more than the Wii did. 70 million Wiis sold and gamer games still don't sell worth anything on the console? Yeah, people are going to stop playing Farmville one day and decide they want to try out HL2. Sure.

Fantastic....yes the new gamer that will trivialize what saved me from going crazy...thanks Zynga. You've made my life worthless...and so has everyone new gamer who can't figure out they can ask a friend who is a gamer.

ProfessorLayton:
This is why I'm glad I started gaming at a very young age... I mean, when I was in kindergarten I was playing Sesame Street and Pajama Sam point and click adventure games, then I got a GameCube and Pikmin, then I got Call of Duty, then I got Resident Evil 4. I basically worked my way up from the very bottom, so advancing at a slow pace like that came naturally to me. Now I can pick up nearly any game and play it without even glancing at the manual.

TimeLord:
I once tried to play Farmville, I played for 2 minutes, went off to do something else and 2 weeks later came back thinking I would have a lush eden only to find it all fucking dead!

I have never played another Facebook game since. I just don't find that kind of thing fun

That will not stop it being popular though

Similar to Animal Crossing, I see. It makes you play every single day, and that's what gets you. Then it becomes routine.

Ya, my mom plays it. The time that it takes for certain crops to grow can be between 2 hours up to 4 days. The people just have to pick which crop grow times fit their schedules. The crops whither and die if you leave them sit the same amount of time it took them to grow; then you get no coins from them.

The game basically runs like this, click, click, harvest, get coins(do that a few times then buy stuff to decorate farm) then repeat. It doesn't take long to earn the coins to buy everything in the market(that can be bought with coins), after that, if the players want anything new on their farm, they have to spend real money to get farm cash. With farm cash you can buy the exclusive items that can only be bought with farm cash. It is ridiculously expensive. For example, if you want to get an exclusive new animal that Zynga just made for farmville, depending on how interesting the animal is, it can cost close to if not 5 dollars for just one. And from watching my mom play, I have seen other people's farms and some of them have 10 of the exclusive 5 dollar animal. That is 50 dollars that that person spent on 10 duplicate graphics that every day or so you get fake coins from. With 50 dollars, a person can buy a new console game, or two 20 dollar console games that are new but lower in price because they are a few years old , then with the money leftover they can go to Wendy's or some other fast food place and get lunch.
It is much more reasonable to have some new games and a full stomach than 10 worthless graphics of a deer or whatever non-farm creature that they are wanting people buy for their farm.

Bigeyez:
I'm sorry, but the only reason Zynga is even a known name is Facebook. Without Facebook we wouldn't be talking about them right now. Without Facebook they would have 0 votes in March Mayhem. This isn't a case of passionate gamers rising up to vote for their game. This is the case of Zynga spamming all of Facebook for votes. This is NOT "the rise of a new gamer". This is a the rise of people who already spend hours looking at pictures on Facebook who decide to spend some time clicking stuff on a Facebook application. Zynga games are games the same way Reality TV is real.

I'm all for the Wii and companies like PopCap bringing the rise of GOOD casual gaming and introducing games to non gamers, but the last thing we need is to hold up a company to praise who steals peoples ideas, scams their own customers, and their only claim to success is being lucky and riding on the backs of the latest "it" social networking site.

Couldn't agree more. Even their own players are boycotting them.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=100321473343349

We are all sick of the spam and buggy games just preying off those who think they must have that extra "whatever" for so many reward points that must be purchased by credit card. Every game Zynga made was a knock off of another's hard work. Not one came from an original idea.

tatertot

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