A View From the Road: FarmVille Isn't Going Away

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Glademaster:

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:
Look I have said this before and I will say it again there are no massive barriers to gaming. There are plenty of easy introductory games out there like Crash that are perfect to help new gamers along. The problem is not high entry the problem is people being lazy that is why things like Farmville work. There is little to no effort required on the users part.

It is like learning an instrument if you want to get into you will stick at it. If you are going to be one of those twats who is in it to be cool you will lose interest and drop it. That is the problem with this apparent gaming barrier people are lazy nowdays simple as that.

Uh, wrong. While you're absolutely right that if someone tries hard enough, long enough, they'll eventually learn just about anything you put in front of them, there isn't enough immediate reward for many folks to bother putting the time and effort into gaming. If you're trying to balance a job, your family, and other real life activities, the promise that you maybe will eventually have fun in a month just isn't good enough to put up with the difficulty -- especially with just a few clicks you can be having fun now.

The financial barriers are also very, very real. Most families already have a computer, because it's useful for so very much. Spending $400 on a gaming console is no small decision, not when there's the mortgage and whatnot to consider.

It's not that people are lazy, they simply don't share your priorities.

Yes while I am well aware I am ignoring financial barriers I was commenting on the fact that this apparent barrier of effort is stopping people from gaming. Which it isn't. If the financial barrier was given more detail fair enough but it is not. I thought that this barrier of effort was much more stressed in the article which is completely untrue. As gaming is not that hard to get into if you start with something small like Mario or Crash Bandicoot. Even CoD can be breezed through on easy. While there is a financial barrier there are many games that can played if you have a PC capable of playing Farmville they just won't be as mainstream as Cod more brower based games some of which are very good.

I think you have a really skewed concept of just how difficult gaming really is, even at its simplest. You have acquired a vast set of skills over the years, many of which you don't even realize. I'm not talking about more complex stuff like mastering controls or divining strategy, either, I'm talking about basic stuff like moving in a 3d space. Simply forming the mental connection between your hands and eyes takes a surprising amount of practice. Mario is not easy. It takes a great deal of skill, but even beyond that, it takes a great deal of knowledge acquisition. Take Super Mario Galaxy as an example. You already know what enemies look like, how they behave, what powerups do for you, how to get them, that coins are good and Yoshi is your friend. The new gamer knows none of that, and learning all of it can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially when you're trying to master a host of other skills at the same time.

Call of Duty can be breezed through on easy? Yes, perhaps, if you already have a great deal of experience with games under your belt. Saying that jumping into gaming is easy is like saying mastering French cooking is easy. Both take years of patient, persistent effort, but the difference with cooking is that the results are a known quantity. Everyone eats, so the appeal of trying to get good at cooking makes sense. But the appeal of games is unknown to non-gamers. Sure, it'll be "fun", but they already do a lot of things that they consider fun, and already know how to do...why should they knock themselves out and feel stupid and clumsy for a while?

I always thought that their was a natural wariness to the success of social media games and developer/producers following suit to make those kind of game. An irrational concern that top companies will drop the current modus operandi and only make those games created by Zygna. The kind of unreasonable assumption that this is the end of the game they have become used to. That the triple A title will disappear and we will be left with video games that they don't like, because the developers/producers went easy path of low production/high return route.

I actually think that Farmville and the like are actually a good thing for gaming, and before I get flamed for that I'd like to explain.
I'd like to use my experience with Runescape as an example. Sure, I was a gamer before that, but I really had no experience with online games and MMOs due to the whole start up fee (buying the game and getting a month or so of subscription time), so Runescape was a new experience for me. It was interesting to interact with other players and some what opened my eyes to the possiblity of online play. That being said, I slowly came to recognize it as less and less of what I'd consider a game, and consequentially, had less and less fun with it. It also had the whole thing that still goes on today about having to pay to get the true experience and to be at an advantage in the game. However, before I actually sunk low enough to be a premium member, I decided to pick up City of Heroes and try it out, since it looked like it had the whole social aspect that I liked about Runescape, as well as actually gameplay. In a nutshell, the free game opened me up to another branch of gaming.
Similarly, I also disregarded Point-and-click adventure games until I played a few on Newgrounds and found I loved the genre.
Putting these free games up on a popular social networking site actually could turn out to be benefitial to potential gamers as it helps them feel confident about investing in a console or gaming PC, as well as gets them to look for what games they know they're interested in and help decide on which console is right for them based on that rather than just randomly choosing and hating their decision. I think that gaming needs to take another look at these free games as not only does it allow for a fanbase that would ordinarily not be included, but it also helps ease in people that just need the extra help.

That being said, I know there are people who still pay to become premium members in Runescape, or buy extra content from Zynga that never move up from there, but I have no problems with those people. I myself hate most RTS games and yet I don't get up in arms over Starcraft 2's huge amoung of publicity right now, so I don't see why so many people are so upset that news is being given out about facebook games on this site. It's in its own category of games that some people enjoy and want to know about, so let them hear about it in peace. So long as it only fills a niche of gaming rather than takes over completely, there's no real issue here.

Also, like some people have said, Zynga just happens to have figured out how to tap into this market the best (ie, facebook). I don't know if this will supply them the loyal fanbase they need or if they'll be uprooted since most of the general public doesn't really care who made the game or not (I'd like to remind you all of your own past where I'm betting most of you had favorite games/movies where you didn't know the names of the actors/directors/producers/etc. but rather only really cared about the whole product). Only time will tell.

As for social networking, if anything, I'd say it will grow stronger as time goes on. Hell, just looking at human history could probably give you that general idea as you notice that as time goes on, technology evolves so that we become more connected to each other (letters -> telegraph -> telephone -> email -> social sites). It will be interesting to see where things go from here.

John Funk:
A View From the Road: FarmVille Isn't Going Away

You may not like FarmVille, Facebook, or Twitter, but guess what? They're here to stay.

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so is swordplay, as long as people exist their creations will exist.

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:
Look I have said this before and I will say it again there are no massive barriers to gaming. There are plenty of easy introductory games out there like Crash that are perfect to help new gamers along. The problem is not high entry the problem is people being lazy that is why things like Farmville work. There is little to no effort required on the users part.

It is like learning an instrument if you want to get into you will stick at it. If you are going to be one of those twats who is in it to be cool you will lose interest and drop it. That is the problem with this apparent gaming barrier people are lazy nowdays simple as that.

Uh, wrong. While you're absolutely right that if someone tries hard enough, long enough, they'll eventually learn just about anything you put in front of them, there isn't enough immediate reward for many folks to bother putting the time and effort into gaming. If you're trying to balance a job, your family, and other real life activities, the promise that you maybe will eventually have fun in a month just isn't good enough to put up with the difficulty -- especially with just a few clicks you can be having fun now.

The financial barriers are also very, very real. Most families already have a computer, because it's useful for so very much. Spending $400 on a gaming console is no small decision, not when there's the mortgage and whatnot to consider.

It's not that people are lazy, they simply don't share your priorities.

Yes while I am well aware I am ignoring financial barriers I was commenting on the fact that this apparent barrier of effort is stopping people from gaming. Which it isn't. If the financial barrier was given more detail fair enough but it is not. I thought that this barrier of effort was much more stressed in the article which is completely untrue. As gaming is not that hard to get into if you start with something small like Mario or Crash Bandicoot. Even CoD can be breezed through on easy. While there is a financial barrier there are many games that can played if you have a PC capable of playing Farmville they just won't be as mainstream as Cod more brower based games some of which are very good.

I think you have a really skewed concept of just how difficult gaming really is, even at its simplest. You have acquired a vast set of skills over the years, many of which you don't even realize. I'm not talking about more complex stuff like mastering controls or divining strategy, either, I'm talking about basic stuff like moving in a 3d space. Simply forming the mental connection between your hands and eyes takes a surprising amount of practice. Mario is not easy. It takes a great deal of skill, but even beyond that, it takes a great deal of knowledge acquisition. Take Super Mario Galaxy as an example. You already know what enemies look like, how they behave, what powerups do for you, how to get them, that coins are good and Yoshi is your friend. The new gamer knows none of that, and learning all of it can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially when you're trying to master a host of other skills at the same time.

Call of Duty can be breezed through on easy? Yes, perhaps, if you already have a great deal of experience with games under your belt. Saying that jumping into gaming is easy is like saying mastering French cooking is easy. Both take years of patient, persistent effort, but the difference with cooking is that the results are a known quantity. Everyone eats, so the appeal of trying to get good at cooking makes sense. But the appeal of games is unknown to non-gamers. Sure, it'll be "fun", but they already do a lot of things that they consider fun, and already know how to do...why should they knock themselves out and feel stupid and clumsy for a while?

Most of the people we talk about here would not be able to race through CoD...
For the simple reason that they wouldn't even be able to install the game on their computers. I am pretty sure a good part of facebook/farmville "pros" cannot tell the difference between their virus scanner and a game installer.
Don't get me wrong, that's fine, but it adds to this "barrier" we talk about here, a lot.

You know, everytime I see 'FarmVille' typed on this webpage, resting in my peripheral vision, all I notice is 'F...V.ll.,' which makes me think there's a reference to Final Fantasy VII somewhere in the article I keep overlooking.

It does seem to be all that some people know abouyt gaming.

I really dont see whty its so popular, but, that is prolly because I am not part of the markert, I can see how people can get into it though...Through the social networks it seems anythin is possible.

best we can do is try and ingore it, hoping it goes away!

Glademaster:
Even CoD can be breezed through on easy.

You made me laugh out loud! At work! Probably because I tried to do something like that a few years back and I can tell you exactly why it's not a "breeze":

1. Controller complexity/unfamiliarity. Hitting the right bumper and wondering why your gun isn't firing. Or spamming A instead of X trying to reload.

2. Separate move and look controls.

3. Time pressure. You are being shot! Get out of getting shot! You are going to dieeee! Aaaaaaaaaaaah! You are not in your best level-headed thoughtful state.

4. A visually nondescript scene. Experienced gamers are familiar with the general layout of a combat zone in games, what cover looks like, how to quickly scan a scene or where enemies are likely to be hidden. New gamers, not so much.

I have many memories of playing Halo and trying to figure out how I got stuck in a nondescript box because I couldn't see anything no matter how I tried to move or spin the camera. When it turns out I was just looking at the floor. Usually I figured this out just in time to look up before dying.

I don't want to see FarmVille go away. As long as that piece of crap exists, and as long as people play it, they can't criticize me for being a gamer when they spend up to 8 hours playing that crap.

The world we live in today, and the world we'll be living in tomorrow, is a world where Facebook can dethrone even mighty Google as the most-visited site on the web. Naturally, games are following that audience.

Facebook won't dethrone Google until the mouth-breathing computer-illiterates can actually FIND Facebook without using Google ala the ReadWriteWeb fiasco of a couple months back. Remember that? If there was ever a single event in human history that made me lose all my remaining faith in humanity, that was it.

Wait, so controllers are now 'horrendously complicated'?

What kind of people have you giving controllers to? Village idiots?

theaceplaya:
Huh. Very well said. Especially the last bits with the LA LA LA, it just makes people look ignorant.

It also makes him look childishly provocative.

So yeah.

That's as may be Funk, but lots of things are significant and yet go unremarked upon by specialist gaming websites, and a world significantly shaped by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Zynga is one I dread with every fiber of my being egad, and judging by the fact you felt this article was needed, I'm not really in the minority here.

Why do we prefer to cover our ears and shout "La la la I can't hear you la la la"? Zynga doesn't make games, that's why. Somebody is going to take umbrage with that (possibly you), but allow me to elaborate - what they make are games in the sense that a slot machine is a game. Clearly, its not - it's a system designed to make you pull a lever over and over in the hopes of randomly receiving a reward, engineered as such precisely to make you hopelessly addicted until you give it all your money. Likewise, when you 'play' the lottery you are not actually playing a game (unless you want to qualify "give the government all your money because you suck at math" as a game).

A lot of people don't like MMOs because they all resort to those sorts of tactics to keep their players paying forever and ever, but generally there's still some gameplay layered over top the Machiavellian addiction-triggering underpinnings - the good MMOs can actually muster up some fun that isn't just your brain being rewired to associate your shiny new addiction with happiness. The titles Zynga releases are what you get when you strip all those 'extraneous' trappings of gameplay away, leaving only the slot machine that punishes you when you try to stop pulling its handle.

They aren't even slightly fun, but they are very addictive, so it doesn't matter that they're criminally boring and lack any real entertainment value - pulling a damn lever over and over is every bit as unfun and yet there's Vegas. The ridiculous success of these thinly disguised digital slot machines is a sign we should be deeply afraid for the future of games development.

Because those aren't games, and treating Zynga as if they were a legitimate purveyor of entertainment software is an insult to developers of casual games everywhere.

Mantonio:
Wait, so controllers are now 'horrendously complicated'?

What kind of people have you giving controllers to? Village idiots?

theaceplaya:
Huh. Very well said. Especially the last bits with the LA LA LA, it just makes people look ignorant.

It also makes him look childishly provocative.

So yeah.

I think you need to spend some time around non-gamers for a change.

more stuff about Zynga, huh? I am starting to agree with the "you where paid off by Zynga" crowd. first they won all but the round against VALVe, and even then you where banning VALve voters for things that Zynga people did and got away with, then there where about six articles about facebook and farmviile, your ganging up on people for saying things you don't like(seriously, three mods vs one guy?), and now your yelling at us in the first part of your articles. you guys really aren't making yourselves look good with this, just getting the people that actually stayed through the madness and the people that have been around a while mad at you.

Ok, we get it already...
Now what's that big gaming news about farmville you wanted us to pay attention? Is it some secret scoop on farmville 2?, zinga is creating a new division (bazzinga!) that will be managing a new bold spinoff of the franchise?

Or is it farmville because farmville?

I don't know man, I've seen hundreds of articles talking about how relevant are facebook, tweeter, farmville or are or how many users do they move each day and shit like that, but I think I can count with my right all of the actually interesting articles (and that's to give it the benefit of the doubt) about them.

Plus wasn't something VERY similar to this coverd in the last "experienced points"? (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/experienced-points/7373-Experienced-Points-Zynga-and-the-Rise-of-the-New-Gamer)

John Funk:

Mantonio:
Wait, so controllers are now 'horrendously complicated'?

What kind of people have you giving controllers to? Village idiots?

theaceplaya:
Huh. Very well said. Especially the last bits with the LA LA LA, it just makes people look ignorant.

It also makes him look childishly provocative.

So yeah.

I think you need to spend some time around non-gamers for a change.

What he said. The fact of the matter is that, as gamers, we simply take for granted the skills we've acquired over the years and we forget what these would look like to someone not familiar with system's we've come to accept as fundamental.

I mean I don't know about you guys, but I've been playing games in some capacity or another since I was six years old. You teach a kid multiple languages at that age and they'll pick them all up more often then not, but you try to teach me Japanese now and I just can't retain it. Does that make me an idiot? No, it's fucking hard!

This point became very clear to me back when I played WoW alot, and was still living with my parents. Now my Dad and I have an interesting relationship. On some levels, we see eye to eye. On others...I don't think he has ANY idea what to make of me, but he does try. Gaming is one example.

So I was playing WoW a bit, and spending alot of time with it. So one night my Dad comes in and asks me to tell him what it's all about. To his credit, he sat there and absorbed everything I threw at him,and perhaps owing to my job at the time of explaining complicated computer programs to consumer users, it took on a very tutorial mindset.

And he actually started to think it looked really cool. I showed him a few things, talked about the different classes and how they balanced each other out. In particular the look on his face as we rode the tram underground from Stormwind to Ironforge, and then went back via Gryphon was priceless. He got into it.

THEN...I explained that to play, everyone had to sign up for an account which you paid monthly for.

Yeah, and that's when I lost him.

See at that point, it's a basic understanding of games that you pay monthly fees for MMO's. It's a persistent online gaming experience so unlike a single player game, this is the model it works off of. To him, that was absolutely ridiculous, (and there are days where I don't necessarily disagree with him I gottta tell ya)

The fact of the matter, gaming is not a bike. To insist that anyone who can't just pick up a controller day one and beat Call of Duty is an idiot, is at best unrealistic, and at worst, insulting.

John Funk:

Mantonio:
Wait, so controllers are now 'horrendously complicated'?

What kind of people have you giving controllers to? Village idiots?

theaceplaya:
Huh. Very well said. Especially the last bits with the LA LA LA, it just makes people look ignorant.

It also makes him look childishly provocative.

So yeah.

I think you need to spend some time around non-gamers for a change.

I have / had an entire family of non gamers. And they can work out how a controller works just fine.

Despite what you may preach, it isn't rocket science.

jtesauro:
To insist that anyone who can't just pick up a controller day one and beat Call of Duty is an idiot, is at best unrealistic, and at worst, insulting.

Well it's a good thing that I didn't suggest that then, isn't it.

I agree that gaming is quite complex to get into nowadays. If you doubt it, give a PS3 or 360 controller to a non-gamer and ask them to hold it. If they manage to correctly put their fingers over the shoulder buttons, I shall eat my hat. And I love my hat. Shamus made a good point about no one who wasn't into gaming knowing where the hell the R3 and L3 buttons were, and since I, a gamer since the N64, took some time to figure out what they were, I know what he's talking about. This matches into some other article I read some time before that essentially said, 'people want to game, but no one helps them get into it'. And since modern game design pretty is pretty much addicted to that complexity, there's no easy way out of this dilemma.

The problem here is a 'no true scotsman' problem. Someone mentioned up there that FarmVille is not a game in the same way that slot machines and lotteries are not games. But if you define a game as 'an activity in which you perform an action that, depending on skill, luck or a combination of both, may or may not yield a personally positive result' then you've created a definition that covers both of those. Likewise, a fan of books might say that the Twilight series aren't real books, but they are words on paper meant to convey a story. Plenty of music fans will say heavy metal isn't music, but it's a series of sounds that follows an internal harmony. So on, so on, so forth, so forth. But the most important part here is that, to the person enjoying the medium, it is whatever it claims to be - a Twilight reader considers it a book, a death metal fan considers it music, and a FarmVille player considers it a game. The discussion ought to stop there.

I doubt Zynga would draw this much ire if they had made a simple RTS game for Facebook. So for me the problem gamers have with Zynga is not so much that it's not a real game but that it's a bad game, i.e. it's poorly designed, and it's aimed at non-gamers so they can't know it. But if someone created a better, more engaging version of FarmVille, using the lessons three decades of game design taught us, it would be better than it and it would eventually surpass it. Like it or not, Zynga is a trailblazer, and is taking advantadge of it, but trailblazers are eventually surpassed by imitators.

It doesn't mean that we have to like it. I abhor reality shows, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pretend they are not real TV shows. I happen to prefer a well-crafted lie to a boring truth, but if the majority of people happen to disagree with me, that's their problem.

Lastly, if you like heavy metal and is angry that I compared it to Twilight, think of how angry Twilight fans are that I compared it to heavy metal.

comparing the 60 million Wiis and the 60 million farmville players doesn't really work out. Each and every one of those Wiis raked in 200$ each, the farmville players? Not as much.

Same with 10 million MW2 sales.

Once FV starts charging 50$ a farm, we'll see who's talking. Call it Farmville 2 and 3 and all numbers subsequent when you open a new farm.

Aurora219:
Nice subtle article about how we should shut up about March Mayhem already, by the way.

Indeed, lol.

SilverKyo:
oh, hey Shamus, you got a new hair cut or something?

Joking aside, I understand your point, but it doesn't change the fact that I despise farmville and the like with a burning passion. After trying it for five minutes, it wasn't hard to realize that solitaire and minesweeper were better designed games, because they... you know... require some sort of thought

Wow, i missed that article entirely. And... quite frankly... it's a bit misinformed. The strength of Zynga's and other social developers games isn't the casual aspect, no, social gaming is a whole beast altogether. Casual gaming, as the Wii's first titles, can actually expand their gamers into upper tiers of gaming. Nintendo decided to go back to basics to fetch the lower entry point gamers that had been neglected by the current gen wave of gaming, and ascend them upwards from there (again, i must link to this article that someone posted during MM). Social gaming, however, is a dead end in this aspect, it will not evolve in the direction of complexity (or at least, not for a large number of years), because the entry-point is even lower than the Wii's, and they have no intention of disrupting the industry, they got themselves a whole different market altogether, and a whole new and more profitable platform.

Therumancer:

It was a bit tricky to follow, yes, but i understood your point. History is very cyclical, and some aspects are repeated in different dressings time and time again. In fact, yes, i believe the biggest limitation for the phenomenon is it's potential to swallow itself whole. Given the particular platform, and the aspect of appealing to the lowest common denominator for broader appeal, the more hype is generate and developers step into the fray, the more likely it is for a single game, that has the metrics-driven formula more perfected to polarize the bulk of the market, leaving other games and developers without decent profit. But i won't pull a Nostradamus and predict it, we'll just have to wait and see how it evolves.

Gaias:
I always thought that their was a natural wariness to the success of social media games and developer/producers following suit to make those kind of game. An irrational concern that top companies will drop the current modus operandi and only make those games created by Zygna. The kind of unreasonable assumption that this is the end of the game they have become used to. That the triple A title will disappear and we will be left with video games that they don't like, because the developers/producers went easy path of low production/high return route.

It is a bit irrational, but not fully, i believe. Of course, it wouldn't happen suddenly, but it could happen naturally and progressively, over the course of a few years. First a small team is assigned to transfer a AAA ip to the platform (that's already happening, actually, Civ and The Witcher are stepping in). If this works out, more resources and manpower can be diverted as a following step. The result would be AAA titles dropping in quality and frequency, as more developers also step in. Of course, this is speculation, and a myriad of scenarios can limit this: the one i mentioned above (saturation), indie developers evolving to fill in the gaps left in the traditional market, some developers failing step 1 and shifting back to the status quo, etc. But i believe it's only natural (and a bit justifiable) for some traditional gamers to fear the following years as a turbulent, paradigm-shifting period. PC fps's for instance, never recovered from the Halo blow. And while if that's a good or a bad thing is a matter of opinion, it is true that some gamers (myself included) have a hard time finding a likable fps nowadays. "So?", some could ask? Well, it's true, there's no denying certain facts, but one has the right to oppose change one does not like, does one not?

Delock:

This theory could work out, if it wasn't for a few pesky but relevant little details: first, the gap is too big. Social games are extremely simple for accessibility, even when compared to Runescape, Dofus, browers MMO's, the Wii, etc. The gap is still a bit large to bridge easily. During the course of MM, i even tried to politely tell a few Zynga fans to try kongregate, armor games, etc, and they simply didn't want to. Second, they won't do anything to bridge that gap, or at least not much in a foreseeable future. Why? Because metrics take precedence in game design decisions, and every bit of complexity they put in has to be carefully weighed not to become an entrance barrier. Plus, they have a much more effective mechanism to generate user numbers than actually making the games interesting: your friends list, their respective friends lists, and so forth, ad infinitum. Well, actually not infinitum, six steps at an ideal setting, if you consider the Six degrees of separation theory. So you see, this aspect provides a much much bigger potential for growth than the actual quality of the game and advertisement.

As for your final paragraph, (although this is a tad off-topic), it stops once people see their privacy threatened. It's already happening with people suing Google and stuff of the sort. And it will only get worse: Google is a behemoth with a lot of information on a lot of people, Facebook is following closely, and spreading rapidly with fconnect, and the trend of stateless and cloud computing (like Chrome OS and OnLive). It's not hard to imagine a Big Brother-esque future where large groups control a lot of valuable info, and the average joe has little control over his own data, having only terminals with web access. It's not like this is being imposed, but it's pretty much mandatory for the sake of competitiveness (a lot of professional have to be on facebook, twitter, blogger and linkedin to remain competitive). Again, speculation, and a lot of factors can limit this, but it's not out of the equation.

Gildan Bladeborn:

This, i commend you for this post, really. Behavioral conditioning, coupled with a viral progression of users that functions like a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing. It's behavioral Psychology at it's most profitably refined formula.

________________________________________________

Original post: we know they are relevant to the industry, and we know they're here to stay. We know social networking is progressing rapidly, and social gaming trailing along with it. We know the complexity and monetary entry barrier is lower (that's the point, isn't it?). We know Nintendo is making a huge success with some similar points, but like i explained alreay, it's a different beast altogether. Yes, the numbers Zynga pull are staggering, but they're not surprising and are explained by all the points made previously by yourself. And yes, we know that traditional developers are watching this phenomenon closely, that's precisely one of the aspects we don't like. And yes, we know that facebook and farmville are replaceable by something similar. And finally yes, there are relevant things happening in the social media space, and we don't think they're irrelevant, we simply think they're not positive and would prefer them not to be relevant.

tldr version: We know. We just don't like it. And we have the right not to like, and the right to be vocal about it, for we are trying to preserve not only our gaming status quo, but the enlightenment of humanity as a whole!

Gaaaah... *gasps for air*

There, it's done :P

Haven't I read this article before? Seriously, it seems every time I glance down at the articles section, it's something about Zynga and/or the rise of casual gaming. Maybe it's just me.

Yes, I know FarmVille isn't going away, and I don't mind because I never had a problem with its existence to begin with. I don't know anybody who still cares about that sort of thing.

Well, like I've said before, things like Farmville are great. They get the non-gaming crowd interested, then hopefully they'll want something more from their games and eventually make the move from casual to hardcore gaming.

Millions of people masturbate every day, because it's free, convenient and you get an odd sense of satisfaction from it even if you do feel kind of guilty afterwards.

Doesn't make it newsworthy.

I still think Zynga's numbers are grossly inflated - and that the hours invested in it are minimal compared to the time invested in "core" and "casual" games that have some element of skill or challenge to them (Bejewelled counts). It's a rapid series of clicks and then closed for the majority of users, and once-off idle dabbling for others. The numbers add up for Zynga's ad revenue, but who is actually then acting on those ads? How far does the long tail of a few blinking animations reach?

Facebook and other social media platforms for games do have a purpose and will last, but ungames like Farmville (where there is no challenge, no skill, no objective and nowhere to go but up) will gradually lose popularity over time and be superseded by new, generations of shiny toys with minimal time and monetary investment, just as Farmville shoved aside its many, many predecessors.

TL;DR: A lot of people play FarmVille, but Farmville itself doesn't matter. The trend does, but its direct value is questionable and its indirect value is even MORE questionable.

John's right, folks. Gaming IS a hard hobby to get into.

Doesn't anyone here recall when they played their first game? How they had to first learn all the buttons, then what the buttons did, then the way in which these interacted with the movements on screen? Then finally, learn to know the buttons by touch, so that they could play without looking down at the controller and finally getting to work?

And that was back when controllers had as few as 6 buttons. Now they can have 15, or in the case of PC gaming, a Hell of a lot more. Now that might sound like an easy task because many of you have had ten years or more to get into gaming (like I have) and started on the NES or SNES or Genesis when there was only 10 or less buttons to learn, with many games using just one button plus the D pad. People starting out today don't have that luxury. Many are thrown straight into 3D landscapes and control without first learning how to not die immediately in Mario Bros.

Non-gamers aren't stupid, they simply haven't had it as easy as most of us core gamers. It's like any situation where you have knowledge and another person does not - they aren't stupid just because they don't know. They have different skills to you and deserve your respect and patience. Zynga provided a single button interface that can be played without even using a keyboard, and potentially for free. Looking down on what they have achieved by doing so is folly.

It doesn't matter if facebook and shitty facebook apps like farmville continue to exist for the rest of time, you are never going to attract the people that love them here for longer than a few pageviews. They are not your audience. They never will be.

But if you somehow did get them here, "gaming" news to them is "NEW RAINBOW CHICKEN IN FARMVILLE SHOP FOR FARMCASH!!" Then even if you wrote articles about that, you wouldn't be reaching anyone who didn't already know this, as shit like that is broadcast directly to the completely insulated target demographics of facebook apps.

Every time you validate farmville, zygna, facebook apps, etc with any sort of attention, you don't look like journalists. You look like whores... and that would mean zygna is your pimp.

Hopeless Bastard:
It doesn't matter if facebook and shitty facebook apps like farmville continue to exist for the rest of time, you are never going to attract the people that love them here for longer than a few pageviews. They are not your audience. They never will be.

But if you somehow did get them here, "gaming" news to them is "NEW RAINBOW CHICKEN IN FARMVILLE SHOP FOR FARMCASH!!" Then even if you wrote articles about that, you wouldn't be reaching anyone who didn't already know this, as shit like that is broadcast directly to the completely insulated target demographics of facebook apps.

Every time you validate farmville, zygna, facebook apps, etc with any sort of attention, you don't look like journalists. You look like whores... and that would mean zygna is your pimp.

And yet, the VP of Zynga is speaking as the keynote speaker at GDC Canada. Whoops, guess the people in the industry disagree with you.

CloggedDonkey:
more stuff about Zynga, huh? I am starting to agree with the "you where paid off by Zynga" crowd. first they won all but the round against VALVe, and even then you where banning VALve voters for things that Zynga people did and got away with, then there where about six articles about facebook and farmviile, your ganging up on people for saying things you don't like(seriously, three mods vs one guy?), and now your yelling at us in the first part of your articles. you guys really aren't making yourselves look good with this, just getting the people that actually stayed through the madness and the people that have been around a while mad at you.

Oh please. This column was spurred largely by reaction to coverage of Triangle Game Conference, because quite a few of the panels and discussions there revolved around - gasp~! - social media.

As much as some gamers want to deny that they're possibly relevant, that doesn't change the fact that they are. And, by the way, it's perfectly feasible to disagree without "yelling at" people. Which is what we're doing.

Mantonio:

I have / had an entire family of non gamers. And they can work out how a controller works just fine.

Despite what you may preach, it isn't rocket science.

Understanding what the controller does is one thing. I remember trying to get my dad to play Smash Brothers with us back in the day, and we could always explain to him the buttons and how to do everything. But actually USING it is something entirely different. How many times have you seen a non-gamer play a shooter and just walk around looking at the floor? Maybe the odd non-gamer will be able to figure it out, but for a lot of people it's a huge barrier.

You can try to argue otherwise, but it's part of the reason the Wii has been so successful, and why Sony and Microsoft are going their own alternative-controller routes. My dad might not know how to hit B-down-push the stick to the side to control angle or whatever, but he sure as hell knows to act like he's swinging a golf club.

John Funk:
And yet, the VP of Zynga is speaking as the keynote speaker at GDC Canada. Whoops, guess the people in the industry disagree with you.

And whats he going to be able to say, exactly? What valuable insight is he going to be able to grant to actual video game developers?

"Make your game as shitty, but rewarding as possible, and people will flock to you in droves."
"If someone else has a good idea, just rip it off completely and release it as your own."
"If you're strapped for cash, offer a "full version" which is really just a 3kb html file, containing a link to a copy of the .swf file."
"Turn your players into free advertising, by offering extensive rewards for spamming links to the game all over their social networks."

Yea, zygna has made some money through extremely shoddy business practice. Does it translate to actual gaming? No. Should it? No. Will it? We all better pray not.

"Oops, you're out of bullets, get 3 more people to play to reload."

Edit: Forgot that outwar beat zygna to the whole "turn your players into free advertising" bit by about a decade. Pretty sure they weren't the first either.

Hopeless Bastard:

John Funk:
And yet, the VP of Zynga is speaking as the keynote speaker at GDC Canada. Whoops, guess the people in the industry disagree with you.

And whats he going to be able to say, exactly? What valuable insight is he going to be able to grant to actual video game developers?

"Make your game as shitty, but rewarding as possible, and people will flock to you in droves."
"If someone else has a good idea, just rip it off completely and release it as your own."
"If you're strapped for cash, offer a "full version" which is really just a 3kb html file, containing a link to a copy of the .swf file."
"Turn your players into free advertising, by offering extensive rewards for spamming links to the game all over their social networks."

Yea, zygna has made some money through extremely shoddy business practice. Does it translate to actual gaming? No. Should it? No. Will it? We all better pray not.

"Oops, you're out of bullets, get 3 more people to play to reload."

Edit: Forgot that outwar beat zygna to the whole "turn your players into free advertising" bit by about a decade. Pretty sure they weren't the first either.

I don't know. He hasn't given the keynote yet - I have no idea what he'll say. But the fact that you're automatically dismissing it outright shows what I think is a profoundly willful ignorance on your part.

The fact of the matter is, people who call the shots in the industry think that there are things that can be learned from what Zynga does. And to pretend that it isn't the case because their products don't appeal to you personally is, I feel, narrowminded.

John Funk:

Hopeless Bastard:

John Funk:
And yet, the VP of Zynga is speaking as the keynote speaker at GDC Canada. Whoops, guess the people in the industry disagree with you.

And whats he going to be able to say, exactly? What valuable insight is he going to be able to grant to actual video game developers?

"Make your game as shitty, but rewarding as possible, and people will flock to you in droves."
"If someone else has a good idea, just rip it off completely and release it as your own."
"If you're strapped for cash, offer a "full version" which is really just a 3kb html file, containing a link to a copy of the .swf file."
"Turn your players into free advertising, by offering extensive rewards for spamming links to the game all over their social networks."

Yea, zygna has made some money through extremely shoddy business practice. Does it translate to actual gaming? No. Should it? No. Will it? We all better pray not.

"Oops, you're out of bullets, get 3 more people to play to reload."

Edit: Forgot that outwar beat zygna to the whole "turn your players into free advertising" bit by about a decade. Pretty sure they weren't the first either.

I don't know. He hasn't given the keynote yet - I have no idea what he'll say. But the fact that you're automatically dismissing it outright shows what I think is a profoundly willful ignorance on your part.

The fact of the matter is, people who call the shots in the industry think that there are things that can be learned from what Zynga does. And to pretend that it isn't the case because their products don't appeal to you personally is, I feel, narrowminded.

My point is zygna products shouldn't appeal to anyone. The fact they do is some sort of twisted perversion of reality in my mind. Its as confusing as how popular that "feed the flash fish" thing was a few years ago.

Zygna's products are essentially non-satirical versions of progress quest (yet another confusing popularity explosion). Except with in-game rewards for spamming links for progress quest.

Zygna took what other people were doing and made money off it. The amount of money got them noticed by people who actually develop games. The attention they're getting is a terrifying precedent. If every real developer started copying zygna's business model, then... sites like this would cease to exist. You would all be out of a job. There wouldn't be any need for any sort of centralized "gaming press" as each gamer would become little more than a spam-bot for whatever "game" they played.

Hopeless Bastard:

John Funk:
And yet, the VP of Zynga is speaking as the keynote speaker at GDC Canada. Whoops, guess the people in the industry disagree with you.

And whats he going to be able to say, exactly? What valuable insight is he going to be able to grant to actual video game developers?

"Make your game as shitty, but rewarding as possible, and people will flock to you in droves."
"If someone else has a good idea, just rip it off completely and release it as your own."
"If you're strapped for cash, offer a "full version" which is really just a 3kb html file, containing a link to a copy of the .swf file."
"Turn your players into free advertising, by offering extensive rewards for spamming links to the game all over their social networks."

Yea, zygna has made some money through extremely shoddy business practice. Does it translate to actual gaming? No. Should it? No. Will it? We all better pray not.

"Oops, you're out of bullets, get 3 more people to play to reload."

Edit: Forgot that outwar beat zygna to the whole "turn your players into free advertising" bit by about a decade. Pretty sure they weren't the first either.

Metrics. How to analyze user data, and use the feedback of such analysis for making game design decisions to get the larger audience possible, and easily swap in and out elements based on what the majority of people like or dislike. They are good at this, there's no denying that. If that's a more valid approach to game design or not, is a matter of opinion. But of course, this is objectively thinking of the industry as what they're about: making money. Metrics provide this very well. The ones of us that see something more in games, would prefer creativity to be ahead of metrics in game design decisions, but hey, tough luck for us, it seems, we're a minority. It seems our only chance is to be loud, quite frankly, when you think about it.

aemroth:
Metrics. How to analyze user data, and use the feedback of such analysis for making game design decisions to get the larger audience possible, and easily swap in and out elements based on what the majority of people like or dislike. They are good at this, there's no denying that. If that's a more valid approach to game design or not, is a matter of opinion. But of course, this is objectively thinking of the industry as what they're about: making money. Metrics provide this very well. The ones of us that see something more in games, would prefer creativity to be ahead of metrics in game design decisions, but hey, tough luck for us, it seems, we're a minority. It seems our only chance is to be loud, quite frankly, when you think about it.

Maybe the escapist should give you a job, as that actually makes sense. All this "Zygna cheerleading" almost made me forget there actually were intelligent people on this site.

It makes me want to jump out a window while slashing my wrists (down the road, not across the street), but sense it makes.

The idea that QA or test marketing or whatever its called would transfer into real time, to actively alter game elements to appease whiners is disgusting. Its like someone took a shit in my brain. Game design philosophy would have to be redesigned from the ground up, which is a pretty black cloud (cliffyB living in a cardboard box being the silver lining). But its still not very much to say. "If people don't like something, change it!" is captain obvious level material.

I just... don't get it. Zygna made some money by getting people to play ad vehicles thinly disguised as "games" for days on end. That just doesn't translate to game development. I'm as curious as the next guy to see if they actually have anything else to say, I'm just pretty damned sure they won't.

Hopeless Bastard:

aemroth:
Metrics. How to analyze user data, and use the feedback of such analysis for making game design decisions to get the larger audience possible, and easily swap in and out elements based on what the majority of people like or dislike. They are good at this, there's no denying that. If that's a more valid approach to game design or not, is a matter of opinion. But of course, this is objectively thinking of the industry as what they're about: making money. Metrics provide this very well. The ones of us that see something more in games, would prefer creativity to be ahead of metrics in game design decisions, but hey, tough luck for us, it seems, we're a minority. It seems our only chance is to be loud, quite frankly, when you think about it.

Maybe the escapist should give you a job, as that actually makes sense. All this "Zygna cheerleading" almost made me forget there actually were intelligent people on this site.

It makes me want to jump out a window while slashing my wrists (down the road, not across the street), but sense it makes.

The idea that QA or test marketing or whatever its called would transfer into real time, to actively alter game elements to appease whiners is disgusting. Its like someone took a shit in my brain. Game design philosophy would have to be redesigned from the ground up, which is a pretty black cloud (cliffyB living in a cardboard box being the silver lining). But its still not very much to say. "If people don't like something, change it!" is captain obvious level material.

I just... don't get it. Zygna made some money by getting people to play ad vehicles thinly disguised as "games" for days on end. That just doesn't translate to game development. I'm as curious as the next guy to see if they actually have anything else to say, I'm just pretty damned sure they won't.

LOL

Thanks, i guess i should be flattered *aham* :)

But anyway, make no mistakes, i don't like it anymore than you do. I just try to objectively see the point. Do they have something to teach the industry? Yes. Is it a good thing? It probably is for their pockets, but not for our enjoyment, or such is my guess.

As they appeal to the largest audience possible, they converge and simplify characteristics from various genres and themes of games. And they mix and match and adapt elements based on user statistics. Usual game development doesn't work like this, it evolves by diverging mostly, and only sometimes by converging (ME2 for instance) but even then, trying to maintain the complexity of both genres. And that variety and diversity is a large part of what makes gaming great. Social games don't do well with variety, the large difference between Farmville and all other games proves this.

I see it like this: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Wassily Kandinsky, for instance, are all painters, but have very different styles. And the variety of styles and paintings, and individual creative visions such as theirs are what makes art evolve. If you strip away that variety, combine and simplify characteristics of all of them, and take a paint-by-numbers approach, where's the evolution? Of course, gaming is a much more money-centric form of entertainment (though some would call a few games art), but i believe the analogy still stands. A bit sad, really.

John Funk:

Facebook will die out.

Social networking and social platforming will not.

I actually can't see Facebook dying out. Out of all of the social networks out there Facebook is (arguably) one of the best, and with the aid of FarmVille and Zynga its life has been expanded by a ridiculous portion.

If you take a gander around the internet a lot of upcoming social networking sites borrow from Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo but Facebook seems to get ripped off the most. With a social networking site that has it down to a bloomin science I don't see its death coming.

If Facebook were to die, my guess would be the fault of games like FarmVille taking over the user base, but with the sheer amount of people on the internet, and (in my experience) the amount of people getting pissed at game apps Facebook there should be a balance between social networking users and game users.

This whole barrier of entry thing confuses me. True the need to learn to use a controller or to buy hardware is a major hurdle for getting new people into the hobby. What I don't get is how Zynga's games are different in that aspect from other flash games except for the part where they are hosted on facebook and spam to everyone? Kongregate, newgrounds, armor games, etc. are full of games with no barrier of entry. If someone tells me that robot unicorn attack is too complicated for most human being, I think I will lose faith in humanity... I bet that if that game did the same things that farmville does (facebook and spam), it would be played by millions more people.

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