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

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Xanthious:
I think what is being ignored here is that the people who come to The Escapist day in and day out couldn't be paid to care about Zynga unless it's to hear that Mark Pincus (or whatever his name is) was mauled by a bear and suffered horribly waiting to die in some ditch. Seriously, you may as well report on the closing price of pork bellies you might get in some of the commodity crowd too and just as many Escapist regulars would care about that as they do about Zynga "news". The fans of The Escapist aren't denying that Zynga makes popular Facebook apps we are just saying we don't want to hear about it. We are saying that we want The Escapist to stay true to what made it successful in the first place and unless I missed something that wasn't whoring it's self out to the lowest common denominator.

Lately The Escapist has been trying to get us to accept Zynga as if Zynga was their socially awkward and stinky child who has no friends on the playground. Most of us are core gamers and loathe what Zynga stands for. Thinking that we will ever care is simply fooling yourself and trying to make us care or accept your precious Zynga is simply wasting your time. I urge you to put up a poll, close it off to Facebook accounts and get an honest answer from your core audience to the question of "Do you want to see Zynga news on The Escapist?". I'm sure the 10 people that will answer yes already know where to go to find that sort of thing.

I second this motion.

Alright then. I guess I'm fine with that.

But I didn't speak up, because I was not a google..

To be honest the game would probably be only a tenth (at most) popular if it wasn't on the most trafficked website on the planet. Not to mention non-gamers will not pay for a console-not even a Wii- when FaceBook games are free and easy-to-understand.

So simpleness combined with its parent websites popularity is the reason why Zynga are so subscribed to.

In all honesty, before all this March Mayhem crap started I'd never even heard of Zynga, and that still hasn't changed by much, so I can't really comment on them much.

Regiment:

SikOseph:

Regiment:
This is absurd, honestly. Zynga makes games (and no matter how you argue it, what they make are certainly games of some kind or another) that people like, people who generally don't play games. And apparently this is some sort of travesty. What do people playing casual browser games do that's so abhorrent? You don't have to like these games, but we can certainly stop complaining about them and demonizing anyone who plays them. Are these serious hardcore macho difficult games? No, of course not, but do the people playing it care? Of course not! They're having fun. Why is this a bad thing?

Complaining about people playing browser games because "they're not real games" or "they're not real gamers" is disturbingly exclusionary and superior of us. We play video games too. We aren't better than... people who play video games.

Where's the 'video' part of zynga games? Anyway, people complaining aren't really saying 'stop Zynga making games, don't let facebook players have their fun', they're saying 'don't write about it in the Escapist because this is a magazine about proper videogames'. Obviously some of that is exacerbated by hard feelings from the Popularity Contest Versus Thread Extravaganza that happened recently.

Let's not split hairs. Zynga makes computer games. These are a subset of video games. (If you want to be really picky, the "'video' part of Zynga games" is the part where you use a computer video monitor to view the games.)

While I agree that a lot of people are saying that the Escapist shouldn't write about browser games, there's this strong undercurrent about how these games are bad for someone or another, which is frankly absurd (bringing more people into a medium is never a bad thing). And how are browser games not "proper" video games? Where is that line drawn and who gets to draw it?

Certainly this is all because of the March Madness mishegas. People are angry that their favorite developers lost (or were severely challenged by) someone else's favorite developer, a developer they don't personally like.

It's all part of the curious trend against "casual" gamers. It's a silly line to draw, and it happens in all fandoms. People who memorize the Red Sox rosters and know every player's statistics, age, birthplace, favorite food, and underwear preference aren't "better" fans than those who just watch the World Series because it's fun and their friends like it. People who can recite the lyrics to every single Metallica song ever recorded aren't "better" fans than people who just like that one song they heard on the radio, and people who can get 1000 kills on Modern Warfare 2 without dying once aren't "better" fans than people whose idea of a day gaming involves a grand total of twenty minutes in FarmVille.

Not claiming to be a better fan of anything, I'm claiming that, for example, a fishing magazine should not bother to give news updates about what's going down at the Hook-a-Duck stall at the fair. To use your World Series analogy, a magazine catering for dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans, who know their favourite team well, know about the main players of most other teams, know names of coaches etc, would be devaluing itself by suddenly pandering to the once-a-year fans who just watch that game. Twenty minutes of FarmVille isn't gaming, as those who would call themselves gamers understand it. It's just not the same.

You do ask a good question though as to where the line should be drawn. I have struggled to come up with a workable definition that would include most of what I would call 'videogames' and exclude most of what I would call 'crap'. As a gamer, I do not consider my playing of Tower Defense flash games 'gaming' and so would seek to exclude that as well. Perhaps one useful definition would be that you have to pay for 'proper' games. But that brings up potential other problems. However, the current state of play of including facebook games is not really justifiable, because I can't find a way to include them and not to therefore also include the RP games in the forum on here. Or googlewhacking. Do we get news or reviews of the RP forum? Would we want them?

The problem I have with "social" gaming, specifically Facebook gaming, is that the rip-offs outnumber the original concepts. FarmVille/Farm Town, Mob Wars/Mafia Wars, PetVille/Happy Pets, Resturant Town/Cafe World, so on and so forth. Gamers dislike "social" gaming because of this, and also a lack of quality. The first "social" game that tells a good story and is fun to play is likely to do well, although it seems to be really popular, your game must spam like hell. And, as everyone knows, spam is Not Good.

randommaster:

John Funk:
Facebook will die out.

Social networking and social platforming will not.

No, Facebook will turn into zombie website that hides in the tubes and infects other packets as they go by, slowly turning the entire internet into a mass of websites sending you requests to join your friends.

...Anyways, I wonder what will kill Facebook, another site or an internal collapse. I'm going to say the later, but I am curious as to what would replace it.

Will be replaced by an even more obnoxious site of unspeakable horror. My guess.

haha, the title was tl;dr. You know why? Becaus it's fucking obvious.

I'd rather see someone argue the opposite. That it's just a fad and it'll go away.

All we can hope for is that it will mature into something actually fun.

SikOseph:

Regiment:

SikOseph:

Regiment:
This is absurd, honestly. Zynga makes games (and no matter how you argue it, what they make are certainly games of some kind or another) that people like, people who generally don't play games. And apparently this is some sort of travesty. What do people playing casual browser games do that's so abhorrent? You don't have to like these games, but we can certainly stop complaining about them and demonizing anyone who plays them. Are these serious hardcore macho difficult games? No, of course not, but do the people playing it care? Of course not! They're having fun. Why is this a bad thing?

Complaining about people playing browser games because "they're not real games" or "they're not real gamers" is disturbingly exclusionary and superior of us. We play video games too. We aren't better than... people who play video games.

Where's the 'video' part of zynga games? Anyway, people complaining aren't really saying 'stop Zynga making games, don't let facebook players have their fun', they're saying 'don't write about it in the Escapist because this is a magazine about proper videogames'. Obviously some of that is exacerbated by hard feelings from the Popularity Contest Versus Thread Extravaganza that happened recently.

Let's not split hairs. Zynga makes computer games. These are a subset of video games. (If you want to be really picky, the "'video' part of Zynga games" is the part where you use a computer video monitor to view the games.)

While I agree that a lot of people are saying that the Escapist shouldn't write about browser games, there's this strong undercurrent about how these games are bad for someone or another, which is frankly absurd (bringing more people into a medium is never a bad thing). And how are browser games not "proper" video games? Where is that line drawn and who gets to draw it?

Certainly this is all because of the March Madness mishegas. People are angry that their favorite developers lost (or were severely challenged by) someone else's favorite developer, a developer they don't personally like.

It's all part of the curious trend against "casual" gamers. It's a silly line to draw, and it happens in all fandoms. People who memorize the Red Sox rosters and know every player's statistics, age, birthplace, favorite food, and underwear preference aren't "better" fans than those who just watch the World Series because it's fun and their friends like it. People who can recite the lyrics to every single Metallica song ever recorded aren't "better" fans than people who just like that one song they heard on the radio, and people who can get 1000 kills on Modern Warfare 2 without dying once aren't "better" fans than people whose idea of a day gaming involves a grand total of twenty minutes in FarmVille.

Not claiming to be a better fan of anything, I'm claiming that, for example, a fishing magazine should not bother to give news updates about what's going down at the Hook-a-Duck stall at the fair. To use your World Series analogy, a magazine catering for dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans, who know their favourite team well, know about the main players of most other teams, know names of coaches etc, would be devaluing itself by suddenly pandering to the once-a-year fans who just watch that game. Twenty minutes of FarmVille isn't gaming, as those who would call themselves gamers understand it. It's just not the same.

You do ask a good question though as to where the line should be drawn. I have struggled to come up with a workable definition that would include most of what I would call 'videogames' and exclude most of what I would call 'crap'. As a gamer, I do not consider my playing of Tower Defense flash games 'gaming' and so would seek to exclude that as well. Perhaps one useful definition would be that you have to pay for 'proper' games. But that brings up potential other problems. However, the current state of play of including facebook games is not really justifiable, because I can't find a way to include them and not to therefore also include the RP games in the forum on here. Or googlewhacking. Do we get news or reviews of the RP forum? Would we want them?

And if the managers of baseball teams were looking at Little League games for tips, and if hardcore fishing aficionado were suddenly seeing a revolution in hook-a-duck stands, it would be remiss for publications to not cover them because they're "beneath" them.

John Funk:
And if the managers of baseball teams were looking at Little League games for tips, and if hardcore fishing aficionado were suddenly seeing a revolution in hook-a-duck stands, it would be remiss for publications to not cover them because they're "beneath" them.

You have a point there. But I don't think that has been the flavour of reporting we've been getting about Facebook games. Certainly many people who cared about March Madness would complain that a little-league team (with a mysteriously large backing - ok, it's a tortured metaphor) was included in a vote about favourite baseball teams. If the people on your website are telling you that they aren't interested in 'social gaming' (a misnomer in my opinion, I got to level 70 in Mafia Wars and not once did I find the experience social) perhaps rather than telling them they are being juvenile, you should consider what they do want to hear about. Remember, for the majority of people on here Nintendo's commercial success with the Wii isn't a real success unless they actually enjoyed the games that were produced. Same goes for casual games - if serious developers do go more and more down that route, it will be an unwelcome change for the majority of your readership who enjoy their more complex and sophisticated games that are less clearly merely a ruse for your money. Your discussion of it as exciting and 'the same' as what I would call 'proper gaming' only serves to annoy people who lament this process. It's not about 'beneath' the Escapist, it's about not comparing apples and oranges.

John Funk:
They're not games that appeal to YOU (or me, frankly), but they're still games, and some people who aren't us derive enjoyment from them.

Clearly not that many people who do enjoy those games here by the looks of this thread, though.

Quite frankly I don't really care who plays what, nor what you choose to write about on this site, but this is just getting ridiculous. Complaining about your readers complaining about some of the things you write about... So just to keep it going I'll just add another layer of complaining on top of that.

NME doesn't often write about Susan Boyle, and when she does get mentioned occasionally the users comments on the website are... not favorable to put it mildly. Nothing really surprising there, their respective target audience don't really overlap much. So why are you so surprised?

Now I'm sure everyone here knows that there's money in Facebook games, same as there's money in Susan Boyle albums, so thank you for that Captain Obvious. Doesn't mean either is having a positive impact on their respective medium of expression(outside of their publishers wallets obviously), and it certainly doesn't mean that people shouldn't express their opinion on how much something sucks, especially since you're the ones that keep bringing it up, and have an open comments section below ;)

Good article.

I'm an accountant. What right or special knowledge do I have to say what is "good" or not? I like what I like, my friends like what they like. They're smart enough to not get scammed, and I warn those who might not be.

The world keeps spinning.

Maybe we should leave the Social/Economic/Cultural commentary to folks who actually know what they're talking about. Notice that those who do, don't talk about Zynga. I will take my layman's perspective and assume it is because it doesn't matter.

This is relevant to the games industry because of its success?

Success, mind you that came from a pre existing non gamer audience, a horrendous spam advertising program, spyware, blatantly copying their apps from other companies, ect. You may want to put off these details as "irrelevant" but they are not. The games industry should not be looking at this success as something to be celebrated, this kind of crap should be punished.

As for the audience. These are not gamers. They probably will never become gamers. A social networking app that only exists because people want something mindless to do while they post on facebook is not a game.

John Funk:

And if the managers of baseball teams were looking at Little League games for tips, and if hardcore fishing aficionado were suddenly seeing a revolution in hook-a-duck stands, it would be remiss for publications to not cover them because they're "beneath" them.

Only in this situation, the little league gains success by using drugs, the rough equivalent of the add spam and malware Zynga is guilty of using.

So in a correct analogy, the little league team "revolution" in baseball is revealed to be a very popular bunch of cheaters and you want to celebrate them because they are popular right now.

This is not a positive thing for the games industry, if Znyga's tactics become acceptable just because it caught on because of facebook, we all will suffer. This isn't a revolution in the gaming, its a shameful fad made popular by a built in audience made by a bunch of dirty, spyware using, game stealing fucks. Like I said before, this should be condemned, not celebrated.

John Funk:
And if the managers of baseball teams were looking at Little League games for tips, and if hardcore fishing aficionado were suddenly seeing a revolution in hook-a-duck stands, it would be remiss for publications to not cover them because they're "beneath" them.

So this is about journalistic integrity? Okay, sure.

Its remiss to act as if zygna's popularity or success is good for the industry, relevant to the industry, or otherwise meaningful in any way, shape, or form.

Les look to another browser game with a similar (read: identical) design. Outwar is the oldest I can remember, but even it wasn't the first. Outwar, like zygna products, reward (present tense, as its still up and running) users for spamming links. The reason outwar is such an obscure name is because no one wanted its spam on their networks. No one wanted it in their irc channels, their forums, their aol chatrooms. No one wanted it anywhere. Most moderators wrote automated scripts to instantly ban outwar links. Even this site likely has a few outwar bans. Hell, outwar is probably a big reason signatures are disabled in the forums. The internet in general did everything it could to keep outwar from propegating, for the internet, as it existed then, recognized outwar as a cancerous mass.

So why is zygna so successful then? Facebook. Zygna's success is facebook's success. Except with less actual effort on zygna's part. They didn't have any new ideas, they didn't even try to come up with any, they simply aligned themselves with a mostly unregulated social network that would become insanely popular. Their spam is free to propagate as much as possible, forcing people to block it on a per-user basis. Which solves nothing, as the spam is still there, you just can't see it.

So, imagine, if Live or PSN or Steam started consenting (through inaction) to that level of spam for in-game rewards for meta-game actions.

SikOseph:

Regiment:

SikOseph:

Regiment:
(games are games, even Zygna's))

(we don't want to hear about Zygna)

(casual vs. core gamers)

...You do ask a good question though as to where the line should be drawn. I have struggled to come up with a workable definition that would include most of what I would call 'videogames' and exclude most of what I would call 'crap'. As a gamer, I do not consider my playing of Tower Defense flash games 'gaming' and so would seek to exclude that as well. Perhaps one useful definition would be that you have to pay for 'proper' games. But that brings up potential other problems. However, the current state of play of including facebook games is not really justifiable, because I can't find a way to include them and not to therefore also include the RP games in the forum on here. Or googlewhacking. Do we get news or reviews of the RP forum? Would we want them?

Honestly, as much as it pains me to say this, I have no objection to the core and casual categories. (I'd personally draw the line at console or long-term games, so something like D&D Online [even though it's a free game played in a browser] would be "core" and Farmville would be "casual".) My objection is just that it seems to be core VERSUS casual, and that I don't understand.

Besides, people have to start somewhere. To continue the baseball analogy, if the once-a-year World Series fans pick up a magazine or start talking to the dyed-in-the-wool fans, and the magazine or DITW fans belittle the newbies for not knowing enough about baseball, they'll never know anything about baseball, and they might stop watching altogether. However, if they pick up a magazine and see an article called "Baseball for Newbies", they'll be more likely to learn more about the sport. If someone who never plays video games starts playing a browser game- as derivative, cheesy, tedious, and unoriginal as it might be- there's a greater chance that they'll start playing other games and eventually migrate to the "core" crowd. This can only be a good thing.

Now, is the Escapist the proper venue for this? Not being an editor, I don't know. I'm not advocating some sort of "all browser games, all the time" thing, but I also like Alt+Escape.

Irrelevant postscript: What's "Googlewhacking"? I've never heard of that before.

Hopeless Bastard:

John Funk:
And if the managers of baseball teams were looking at Little League games for tips, and if hardcore fishing aficionado were suddenly seeing a revolution in hook-a-duck stands, it would be remiss for publications to not cover them because they're "beneath" them.

So this is about journalistic integrity? Okay, sure.

Its remiss to act as if zygna's popularity or success is good for the industry, relevant to the industry, or otherwise meaningful in any way, shape, or form.

Les look to another browser game with a similar (read: identical) design. Outwar is the oldest I can remember, but even it wasn't the first. Outwar, like zygna products, reward (present tense, as its still up and running) users for spamming links. The reason outwar is such an obscure name is because no one wanted its spam on their networks. No one wanted it in their irc channels, their forums, their aol chatrooms. No one wanted it anywhere. Most moderators wrote automated scripts to instantly ban outwar links. Even this site likely has a few outwar bans. Hell, outwar is probably a big reason signatures are disabled in the forums. The internet in general did everything it could to keep outwar from propegating, for the internet, as it existed then, recognized outwar as a cancerous mass.

So why is zygna so successful then? Facebook. Zygna's success is facebook's success. Except with less actual effort on zygna's part. They didn't have any new ideas, they didn't even try to come up with any, they simply aligned themselves with a mostly unregulated social network that would become insanely popular. Their spam is free to propagate as much as possible, forcing people to block it on a per-user basis. Which solves nothing, as the spam is still there, you just can't see it.

So, imagine, if Live or PSN or Steam started consenting (through inaction) to that level of spam for in-game rewards for meta-game actions.

Exactly.

Znyga's success is not good for the industry. I would even say its a very bad thing. These kind of tactics are horrible should should not be looked at as "revolutionary" but rather "vulgar" or even "criminal". Facebook is why this got so popular and hopefully facebook is where this stays and dies.

I agree that other game companies could start looking at Zynga for ideas and that is a very scary thought. Like with what you said about steam or PSN. Do you really want the same companies who are already pushing terrible DRM down our thoughts to get more bad ideas???

How bout, whenever a friend of yours plays a game you don't have while you are connected to the internet, Xbox live or PSN sends you an add for that game. Or how about instead of the Assassin's Creed DRM we get that but along with the game constantly freezing every 10 minutes to advertise other games?

You cannot tell us that Zynga's shady dealings are "irrelevant" but their success somehow is.

The article was well written but it was pretty uninteresting. I would like to combine two phrases here, "Why are you writing about this?" "This isn't news." All this article is really doing is fueling what is essentially the console war of online gaming. Also this article doesn't argue any opinion that hasn't been stated already, or even an opinion that needs to be argued, but hey even though you pulled a crap story out your ass at least you made it look good.

It's not that there's a "huge barrier to entry" for mainstream games it's that social gamers want to jump into gaming like noobs because they're not used to actually having to learn how to play games. The funny thing is that the only thing that really separates these games from MMORPGs is the visuals.

This whole complex controller thing I'll agree with, yeah someone new to games may have trouble with the controllers but it's not because of time spent gaming that makes the controllers seem easier to use to a gamer, it's because most of the people here built up their skills from the nes, snes, gameboy, etc. If someone would rather suffer through trying to learn the basic controls with modern controllers, rather than work their way up from the basics, then so be it and I hope they promptly give up.

If I had the time I would probably argue against every individual sentence in this article but I'm done for now.

Matt_LRR:

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.

Read Full Article

Man, Twitter sucks so hard, I can't imagine a single good use for it, and don't understand why someone would want to spend any time on it at all. It's just so... useless.

*wry smile*

-m

I only found one single porpoise for Tweeter: to get an extra vote at March Mayhem.

Hopeless Bastard:

John Funk:
And if the managers of baseball teams were looking at Little League games for tips, and if hardcore fishing aficionado were suddenly seeing a revolution in hook-a-duck stands, it would be remiss for publications to not cover them because they're "beneath" them.

So this is about journalistic integrity? Okay, sure.

Its remiss to act as if zygna's popularity or success is good for the industry, relevant to the industry, or otherwise meaningful in any way, shape, or form.

Les look to another browser game with a similar (read: identical) design. Outwar is the oldest I can remember, but even it wasn't the first. Outwar, like zygna products, reward (present tense, as its still up and running) users for spamming links. The reason outwar is such an obscure name is because no one wanted its spam on their networks. No one wanted it in their irc channels, their forums, their aol chatrooms. No one wanted it anywhere. Most moderators wrote automated scripts to instantly ban outwar links. Even this site likely has a few outwar bans. Hell, outwar is probably a big reason signatures are disabled in the forums. The internet in general did everything it could to keep outwar from propegating, for the internet, as it existed then, recognized outwar as a cancerous mass.

So why is zygna so successful then? Facebook. Zygna's success is facebook's success. Except with less actual effort on zygna's part. They didn't have any new ideas, they didn't even try to come up with any, they simply aligned themselves with a mostly unregulated social network that would become insanely popular. Their spam is free to propagate as much as possible, forcing people to block it on a per-user basis. Which solves nothing, as the spam is still there, you just can't see it.

So, imagine, if Live or PSN or Steam started consenting (through inaction) to that level of spam for in-game rewards for meta-game actions.

200+ million new potential gamers isn't relevant in any way, shape or form?

Jeez, I want what you're smoking.

JerrytheBullfrog:

200+ million new potential gamers isn't relevant in any way, shape or form?

Jeez, I want what you're smoking.

No they aren't because most of them will never eventually play real games, the number of people playing Zynga games is only due to facebook, these people want something to do while browsing their social networking site and will never come around to buying a console or gaming PC.

Go visit their forum by the way. They think of us real gamers pretty poorly. Bunch of violence loving retards we all are apparently. Thats another thing, they hate and don't understand real gaming. They think of real games the same way the media does.

JerrytheBullfrog:
200+ million new potential gamers isn't relevant in any way, shape or form?

Jeez, I want what you're smoking.

Yes, and every pirated copy is a lost sale, every smoker (tobacco) will progress to heroin, and everyone who drinks a beer will eventually die of alcohol poisoning.

Dark Templar:
They think of real games the same way the media does.

Because they're the people that eat that shit up. They're the target audience of "ARE YOUR KIDS GOING TO MURDER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP WITH THEIR ECKSBAWKS CONTROLLERS? find out at eleven, ten central."

Eloyas:
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.

It's as simple as that, really. Those games are not on a social network, and don't use the pyramid structure and grind/greed/envy conditioning-driven formula to boost their numbers. But to be honest though, for a game such as that to conform to that kind of formulaic design, it would have to be fundamentally different:

- it would have to incorporate a lvl system (grind), with shiny new fluff being available as you level up (greed, and by comparison with what your friends/neighbors have, envy).

- it would have to incorporate 2 means of gaining an upper hand (the desire for which stems from the points made above): direct money investment (profit), and getting more people to play via gifts/invites/spam/etc. (more direct profit through ads, and indirect potential for profit through previous point).

- ok, this one is a bit harder to explain, but bare with me here: that game is fun, the gameplay itself is intrinsically rewarding. You can pretty much play for as long as you want, when you want, and you can stop whenever you feel like it. If you analyze most traditional games in the light of behavioral Psychology, reinforcement (the increase of a certain behavior) and punishment (the decrease of a certain behavior) are usually present within the gameplay itself - if you succeed at a problem, positive reinforcement, and if you fail at that problem, positive punishment (wrong behavior, unwelcome outcome). Zynga's games, for instance, employ a lot more external motivators. The gameplay itself isn't what's rewarding, it's the long-term benefits (y'know, the bling-bling and all that) that generate positive reinforcement. Plus, positive punishment is swapped for negative punishment (right behavior, wrong outcome). What i mean by this is the crop withering, food spoiling, etc mechanism: if you perform your action, have to wait, but if for some reason you fail to be there on time, the benefits are stripped away for you. You still performed the right action (intrinsically, the time factor is extrinsic), but you don't get your reward, being punished instead.

This same mechanism also touches another concept: that of satiation vs deprivation: in a regular game, like robot unicorn attack, like i said before, you play when and for as long as you want. Since you become satiated a lot quicker, the effectiveness of the consequence for generating positive reinforcement is lower. Deprivation, however, like in Zynga's games, makes you come back for more over and over again: the more you are deprived of the stimulus you crave, the more effective that stimulus will be. In a classic skinner's box model, if the mouse can press the pedal anytime he wants, he'll rest easy, knowing it's there, and spend most of it's time sitting on it's ass with a full stomach. If, however, the pedal only gives the reward at a certain time, he'll anxiously await for that time to come, and press the pedal with fervor during that time window.

And there you have it. This, coupled with how to strip your design elements to the simplest to lower the entry barrier, how to analyze user data to know what most people want or don't want, and how to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the population at large, is what Zynga has to teach the industry.

When you think about it, this is not even new. In almost all forms of art and entertainment, marketing, etc, the initial approach is usually a creative one. When people start realizing the monetary potential and what works more and less profitably, hard and cold data starts to take precedence over creativity. It was already happening, of course, but it took the boom of social networking and a founder and CEO from an economy field instead of a creative or technical field, to really crank that concept up, and break down game design to a honed formula.

Gildan Bladeborn:

You are quite welcome. I know how it sucks to make an educated effort to provide a valid point, only to get the "tldr" treatment. And i believe constructive opinions must be pointed up and built upon. :)

Anyway, yes, i know full well what your friends are going through. I've been there. It's not like i don't have any experience with Zynga's games, no, i spent too many hours in them than i'd like to admit, and regret every second of it. It's a bloody trap, and as addictive as a drug. I won't elongate on this much longer, i've done so above already, but an analogy with a drug distribution ring is quite an adequate one. Most drug peddlers are also addicts, and the guys up top know this works well. Zynga's games are no different: once you get addicted, the most effective way to feed your addiction is to become a seller, and peddle drugs to the most people possible. Cycle repeats, many addicts, and massive profit ensues. Pyramid model based on addiction. More effective, actually, drugs aren't free. Cute, huh?

rossatdi:

At the very least it will act as a gateway to better games. After all, bring on Civ-Book! http://www.facebook.com/civnetwork

Really, i don't believe so. But in this case, it's pretty much a matter of guessing and personal opinion. If a social network game doesn't adhere to the formula and standards of Zynga's games, for instance, it will never be able to compete with them. And if it resembles a more complex game, akin more to the core gamer crowd, such crowd will prefer the real thing. Such games risk being in that niches middle ground that doesn't appeal to one audience or the other all that much. But let's see... Anyway, i'll also refer to my other post on this:

aemroth:

junkmanuk:
Farmville is a game - yes I agree.

However, I get mad when people put Zynga on a pedestal because they are some revolution in "gaming for non-gamers".

If Farmville wasn't on facebook - would it be as successful? If the game didn't have neighbour reliance, provoking a sense of duty to continue playing would people still continue with it? Zynga are pumping a cheap gaming drug in a high availability channel that is all.

These games work on habit, reliance and objectives that are always slightly out of reach. They create animated instances of behavioural control.

Is this an avenue of gaming that you want to be associated with? Are you happy to propogate the myth that games are 'too hard for normal people'? Is it ok for 'non-gamers' to have sub-standard, addictive and, more concerning, *unfair* products because they are only 'non-gamers'?

I feel sad if that is genuinely the point of view of the escapist editors. In your position you should be pushing the industry to embrace non-gamers, not to stand by and watch them being exploited.

Most of my opinions, exactly, only a lot more concise (yeah, i have an unhealthy obsession of over-explaining myself too much). :P

Just pointing out what needs to be read and heard.

Xanthious:
Zynga is to gaming what the fucking Macarena was to music. Sure it's absolutely huge now but in five years everyone will be scratching their heads going "What in the blue Hell were we thinking?"

Objectively, I see it more like a worrisome paradigm shift in the industry than a passing fad, sadly. Or such is my opinion. But by the gods, a small corner in the back of my mind desperately wishes you're somehow right.

junkmanuk:

Susan Arendt:
...I'm sure I could learn how to take apart my car's engine if I really wanted to, but I just don't see the value in that. (Or, more specifically, the effort required far outweighs the perceived value, so I don't bother.) Am I lazy? Most certainly not, I've just made a decision based on the priorities in my life.

Do you feel the effort required to play Zynga games is reflected in the entertainment value received in return? What about when the effort required increases as you progress into the game? Is the constant monitoring of your crops on farmville, or scheduling of your meals on cafe world around your real life worth the slim rewards the game provides in return? Especially when the addiction of the game can (and has in the case of several of my wife's friends) consumed their daily life to a degree often synonymous with hardcore gamers.

It seems to me Zynga are providing a lot of the negative aspects of 'game' to non-gamers with very few of the benefits...

Worse, actually. There are multiple reports of people spending thousands of dollars in the game, of people consuming time endlessly (some have already been in Dr. Phil, for crying out loud, lol). Ok, the userbase is a lot more massive, so proportionally, it's still not as relevant. But when it's still a recent and rapidly growing phenomenon, and when it's still being polished from an unrefined drug to a designer one, such signs are troublesome, indeed.

Xanthious:
Zynga is growing I admit. But you know what else grows and grows? Cancer, and that is what Zynga is. It is a cancer to the gaming industry.

Don't forget plagues... and viruses... :P

Funny, my medical experience shows that as a rule of thumb, anything that grows too quickly is a sign of malignancy... Except perhaps for babies, but even those are what my teachers lovingly call "physiologicall tumors", with quite a few potential health implications for the mommy.

Susan Arendt:

Me personally? No, not really, but that's why I don't play Farmville. But other people enjoy the grind of it, so clearly they're getting enough value out of the effort.

Well, drugs also provide value out of the effort. In fact, they operate on the same psychological principles of operant conditioning (positive reinforcement when the drug is used, negative punishment when no drug is available, and deprivation over satiation to increase the positive reinforcement generated by the stimuli), as Zynga's games do. Doesn't mean it's a good thing, does it?

Of course, people who play Zynga's games say it's fun, but so do drug addicts say being high is fun, and will be enraged at anyone saying otherwise. But hey, if a drug is legal, there's nothing one can do about it, right? :P

John Funk:

DLC *can* be awesome, and it's a fact of life going forward - if you don't want to pay for it, don't pay for it. It's that simple, dude. And my personal adoration for Blizzard (you know, the reason these are "opinion editorials") has nothing to do with anything :P

Well, it's quite obvious it's here to stay. Doesn't mean it's a particularly good thing, though. Of course everybody will want the DLC when the experience is not complete without it. So, in a way, you end up paying more for the same amount of content as before. There is only an illusion of it being easier on your wallet in the short-term. Like paying for something on installments with an interest rate. Would anyone buy a book one chapter at a time, for instance? Of course, there were sequels and expansions before, but the size was different, the games were whole without them, and the price was more adequate.

"How amazing casual games/gamers are"? Hardly. How important they are to the future of the industry, and we core gamers (yes, I am a core gamer as well) need to understand that, and need to understand that for our industry as a whole to survive it needs to branch out? The currently state of the games industry, where maybe 20 big-budget games a year are hits and turn a profit, is completely untenable. Which is why smaller-budget games that are cheaper to produce and maintain - like casual games - are important to the industry's health and survival.

(...)

And I'm sorry, man, you're being absolutely ridiculous. Are you suggesting it's a bad thing for people to want to be able their employees and keep the lights on? Are you suggesting it's a bad thing for said employees from the lowest of QA to the highest of Lead Designers, to want to be able to put food on the table for their family?

Developers need to make money. Many of them make games for the love and the craft - and that's great - but they need to be able to do it and make a living. This is not a bad thing, and the sooner you understand this the wiser you will be. But, then again, the fact that you refer to Nintendo broadening its horizons as "selling out" says quite a bit about your stance on things.

Big-budget games are very hard to make money on, even when by all accounts the game isn't bad at all - it's just not great. The "tentpole" paradigm of the industry today, where a handful of games actually make lots of money a year but they are few and between? It can't support itself. It's *going* to change. Now, core games aren't going away; you'll still see the big blockbusters, but the other games are going to change.

I am not opposed to the industry making money, and being able to sustain itself, by all means, that would be naive. But it still feels like you're saying it's rightful that we are being penalized for supporting the industry from the start, with many years and money invested, only to make it grow to the point of saturation, and suddenly being told "sorry guys, it's been a good run, but your money is not enough anymore". Are we to blame for being good costumers? Should we pirate everything instead?

Second, casual games and social games are two different beasts altogether. I have no problem with casual games whatsoever, Nintendo pioneered it brilliantly and with careful calculation, and everybody seems to miss the point, the casual phenomenon has turned into some kind of blind gold rush (as explained in the article i linked to in my previous post). But it was inevitable that someone went back to grab those lower tiers again, the hole had been in the making for many years, now. And i see no conceivable threat to the gaming industry from that, Nintendo will, in time, press their market upwards, leaving Microsoft and Sony with a very difficult competition at hand (disruption... again, i stress the article to understand this concept).

But social gaming? Totally different platform, totally different design focus, and very different target market (overlaps a bit, specially with the casual market, but the bulk of it is different). And that massive difference, that makes it a phenomenon that overlaps very little with traditional games, meaning it's very very difficult to bridge the gap, plus the potential for growth, high profit vs. investment rates, and consequent interest it's sparking in the gaming industry is what is worrisome.

Yes, i feel there is a potential danger to core gaming as we know it. The question now is, what would the alternatives be? Or so i imagine you'd ask. Well, a bigger focus on quality would perhaps work. Instead of a developer churning out a large number of mediocre copy-pasted games, they could divert their efforts and budgets into less frequent but more polished games. Since you seem to like Blizzard, it works for them, doesn't it? I realize it's naive to assume this is always feasible, and that's not what i'm claiming. But it certainly could be a good step forward, or so i assume, but then again, i'm not an industry insider.

Curiously enough, i just gazed my eyes through my girlfriend's computer and she was reading an article about how much money developers make, and came across a curious aspect. Who makes the most money? Lead designers? Art department? Audio? No... Executives, and PR closely behind. It's all about the marketing and business side of things. Mind you, this is not at all surprising, and it would be a pipe dream to imagine that this situation could be flipped around. But it's always a sad thing to acknowledge that the people who actually creatively build the experiences we so love and crave, are crushed under the boots of the guys in the suits. And yes, even people working for Zynga would somewhat like a bit more artistic freedom, i reckon, but metrics are the new shiny golden egg chicken, and it's a sad realization it's here to stay and shake the foundations of the industry. But sorry, i can't cross my arms and not be vocal against it.

A few months back my wife would come home and tell me about her day. Without fail this would always lead into who was screwing who or who was doing what underhanded thing at the office. I've told her time and again that I really don't care about that garbage but most days she insists on telling me anyway. The Escapists has seemingly became the journalistic equal to my wife.

The Escapist users keep on saying "Yeah, that's nice but we don't care about Zynga". Without fail however, there is another news story or another article explaining why Zynga shits icecream and pisses liquid gold and that we need to accept and love these thieves and scam artists. Honestly, how hard is it to grasp that your core audience loathes most everything that Zynga stands for? We get that there is money to be made through social media. We get Zynga is huge. We get they probably make more money than god. We simply don't want to hear about it.

Sometimes things just aren't destined to mix well. Hardcore gamers and the Zynga crowd are two of those things. We think they are a bunch of ignorant dolts that would be as amused by shaking a set of keys in their face as they would playing Farmville and they think we are a lot who basks in violence and destruction. Maybe the correct course of action, if The Escapist is going to keep shoving Zynga down our throats, would be to make a whole separate section of the site dedicated to nothing but social gaming. That way your loyal fans wouldn't have to see or hear about it and these new people you are obviously trying to draw in wouldn't be subject to our harsh words.

I know, I knowww... it just sucks. People getting angry and yelling about things like Farmville and Twitter... maybe it's in the blind hope that saying something will make it go away?

John Funk:

beemoh:
^this. I'll admit that I'm only on here from time to time, but it seems there's always some article on the front page (Usually in the regular columns, rather than the magazine issues) about how amazing casual games/gamers are, and how rubbish core games/gamers are and that casual games are exempt from all kinds of criticism forever.

Does the music press do this same level of hand-wringing when some alternative music site pans the latest American Idol winner? Or when a film magazine gives a summer blockbuster anything less than eleven out of ten?

No, no they don't- and while I'm usually the first person to jump on people for hating on popular stuff purely because it's popular, the games press- The Escapist especially- need to get over people occasionally saying something negative about casual games.

"How amazing casual games/gamers are"? Hardly. How important they are to the future of the industry, and we core gamers (yes, I am a core gamer as well) need to understand that, and need to understand that for our industry as a whole to survive it needs to branch out? The currently state of the games industry, where maybe 20 big-budget games a year are hits and turn a profit, is completely untenable. Which is why smaller-budget games that are cheaper to produce and maintain - like casual games - are important to the industry's health and survival.

Nobody's arguing that point, as such (or at least, I'm not- and that's mostly because it's a conclusion that most of us accepted about four years ago. Welcome to the party.), but that it's the same article again. Look- here is the exact same article from January, except instead it's Susan Arendt doing "OMG SOMEONE SAID SOMETHING NEGATIVE ABOUT FARMVILLE AND THAT'S NOT ALLOWED!!1!!"

Not only is it a nasty case of deja vu, it's hypocritical and misses its own point.

The message from the article is, fundamentally, that this group of people (casual gamers) like their games (casual games), because our games (core games) that we (core gamers) play don't appeal to them for whatever reason, and that's OK. However, their games do not appeal to us- again, for whatever reason- and that's aparrently wrong.

(And I know you put a tokenistic bit in about how we "are perfectly within [our] rights to dislike these games", but the fact that you've written the article at all kinda takes the edge off that one, what with it being about giving people a load of grief for disliking Farmville and all)

The part in your reply about how "for our industry as a whole to survive it needs to branch out" ultimately makes sense, but "branch out" doesn't mean "travel exclusively in one direction, because that direction is The Right One", that's probably what got it into trouble in the first place. It means catering for a number of different markets- and that means accepting that different markets might not be compatible and stop with the hand-wringing.

To labour my initial point: this sort of article doesn't appear in the music press when some rock fan says they don't like some random pop act. (In fact, this behaviour seems to be acceptable and considered A Good Thing, if the coverage Rage Against The Machine got in the UK before Christmas is anything to go by) Nobody in TV journalism complains when someone says they don't like reality shows. (Staying in the UK, it seems that Charlie Brooker has built his entire career on doing so.) It doesn't happen in the film press when a Hollywood blockbuster gets a panning by some more arbitrarily discerning group of people.

So why is it such a big upset when it happens with games?

This isn't an issue with gamers as a whole, who have largely accepted casual gaming, at least as much as music fans have accepted manufactured pop and so on. It's an issue with its media, specifically that which just can't deal with the idea that Farmville (or Super Guide, or the Wii as a whole) might legitimately simply not appeal to someone, somewhere, and that it can only be due to elitism and is wrong and Must Be Stamped Out Now.

beemoh:

John Funk:

beemoh:
^this. I'll admit that I'm only on here from time to time, but it seems there's always some article on the front page (Usually in the regular columns, rather than the magazine issues) about how amazing casual games/gamers are, and how rubbish core games/gamers are and that casual games are exempt from all kinds of criticism forever.

Does the music press do this same level of hand-wringing when some alternative music site pans the latest American Idol winner? Or when a film magazine gives a summer blockbuster anything less than eleven out of ten?

No, no they don't- and while I'm usually the first person to jump on people for hating on popular stuff purely because it's popular, the games press- The Escapist especially- need to get over people occasionally saying something negative about casual games.

"How amazing casual games/gamers are"? Hardly. How important they are to the future of the industry, and we core gamers (yes, I am a core gamer as well) need to understand that, and need to understand that for our industry as a whole to survive it needs to branch out? The currently state of the games industry, where maybe 20 big-budget games a year are hits and turn a profit, is completely untenable. Which is why smaller-budget games that are cheaper to produce and maintain - like casual games - are important to the industry's health and survival.

Nobody's arguing that point, as such (or at least, I'm not- and that's mostly because it's a conclusion that most of us accepted about four years ago. Welcome to the party.), but that it's the same article again. Look- here is the exact same article from January, except instead it's Susan Arendt doing "OMG SOMEONE SAID SOMETHING NEGATIVE ABOUT FARMVILLE AND THAT'S NOT ALLOWED!!1!!"

Not only is it a nasty case of deja vu, it's hypocritical and misses its own point.

The message from the article is, fundamentally, that this group of people (casual gamers) like their games (casual games), because our games (core games) that we (core gamers) play don't appeal to them for whatever reason, and that's OK. However, their games do not appeal to us- again, for whatever reason- and that's aparrently wrong.

(And I know you put a tokenistic bit in about how we "are perfectly within [our] rights to dislike these games", but the fact that you've written the article at all kinda takes the edge off that one, what with it being about giving people a load of grief for disliking Farmville and all)

The part in your reply about how "for our industry as a whole to survive it needs to branch out" ultimately makes sense, but "branch out" doesn't mean "travel exclusively in one direction, because that direction is The Right One", that's probably what got it into trouble in the first place. It means catering for a number of different markets- and that means accepting that different markets might not be compatible and stop with the hand-wringing.

To labour my initial point: this sort of article doesn't appear in the music press when some rock fan says they don't like some random pop act. (In fact, this behaviour seems to be acceptable and considered A Good Thing, if the coverage Rage Against The Machine got in the UK before Christmas is anything to go by) Nobody in TV journalism complains when someone says they don't like reality shows. (Staying in the UK, it seems that Charlie Brooker has built his entire career on doing so.) It doesn't happen in the film press when a Hollywood blockbuster gets a panning by some more arbitrarily discerning group of people.

So why is it such a big upset when it happens with games?

This isn't an issue with gamers as a whole, who have largely accepted casual gaming, at least as much as music fans have accepted manufactured pop and so on. It's an issue with its media, specifically that which just can't deal with the idea that Farmville (or Super Guide, or the Wii as a whole) might legitimately simply not appeal to someone, somewhere, and that it can only be due to elitism and is wrong and Must Be Stamped Out Now.

You're missing the point. I'm not saying that people can't dislike Facebook games. I'm not saying that people can't criticize them or the people who play them.

I'm saying that people need to stop being surprised/angry at the games being considered noteworthy by press and developers alike.

beemoh:

Nobody's arguing that point, as such (or at least, I'm not- and that's mostly because it's a conclusion that most of us accepted about four years ago. Welcome to the party.), but that it's the same article again. Look- here is the exact same article from January, except instead it's Susan Arendt doing "OMG SOMEONE SAID SOMETHING NEGATIVE ABOUT FARMVILLE AND THAT'S NOT ALLOWED!!1!!"

Thank you for pointing out that article. The aspect i extract from it, only confirms what i've been saying: why the hell are "casual" games and social games banded together? Fundamentally, there's a bigger difference between them, than between "casual" and "core" games. Social games belong in a whole new pigeonhole.

John Funk:

You're missing the point. I'm not saying that people can't dislike Facebook games. I'm not saying that people can't criticize them or the people who play them.

I'm saying that people need to stop being surprised/angry at the games being considered noteworthy by press and developers alike.

But if one criticizes them, it is because one believes their impact in the industry is something one does not wish. Ergo, one does not wish them to succeed, and by extent, does not wish to see them get attention from their peers or the press. Isn't it rational then, to say that if one has the right to criticize them, one also has the right to criticize the attention they get?

John Funk:
-snip-

I think what people are most upset about is that I would wager the vast majority of your core audience wants nothing to do with Zynga in any way shape or form yet The Escapist continues to hang off of Zynga's sack singing their praises in spite of what your audience thinks. I challenge you to open a poll to find out exactly how your base audience feels about Zynga getting the promotion it does by this site. I bet you'd find the numbers to be very slanted against it.

I understand why you would want to report on Zynga but your presenting it to an audience that doesn't want to hear about it and doesn't care. A month or so back you had a "news" story up that Zynga was releasing prepaid retail cards. Honestly, how many of the regular Escapist members do you believe gave two rotten pieces of monkey crap about that? I don't know why the Escapist has made it their life goal to give legitimacy to Zynga but your users and fans aren't buying it and are largely tired of hearing about it.

Xanthious:

John Funk:
-snip-

I think what people are most upset about is that I would wager the vast majority of your core audience wants nothing to do with Zynga in any way shape or form yet The Escapist continues to hang off of Zynga's sack singing their praises in spite of what your audience thinks. I challenge you to open a poll to find out exactly how your base audience feels about Zynga getting the promotion it does by this site. I bet you'd find the numbers to be very slanted against it.

I understand why you would want to report on Zynga but your presenting it to an audience that doesn't want to hear about it and doesn't care. A month or so back you had a "news" story up that Zynga was releasing prepaid retail cards. Honestly, how many of the regular Escapist members do you believe gave two rotten pieces of monkey crap about that? I don't know why the Escapist has made it their life goal to give legitimacy to Zynga but your users and fans aren't buying it and are largely tired of hearing about it.

Are we singing Zynga's praises? Absolutely not; I said in the column itself that you couldn't get me to touch Farmville unless you literally paid me. I don't *like* the games, but I see how they - and social media in general - are relevant.

The story about Farmville cards showing up in Gamestop WAS newsworthy, because it's about the interaction between social games and actual enthusiast/speciality retailers. If Armor Games started selling stuff in gamestop it'd be equally newsworthy.

It isn't about Zynga. It isn't about Farmville. Yes, Zynga is incredibly shady; that's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand right now. Zynga will not be around forever, nor will FarmVille - but games LIKE them, that find good ways of engaging non-gamers and making them care about things that are essentially computer games by interfacing them with their friends lists and social media? Those games WILL be around. Those games ARE important to the future of our industry, Zynga or whoever else.

Fine, you don't like FarmVille or Zynga? Neither do I. I think it's crap. But what about, say, Civilization on Facebook? Are you going to tell me that CIV isn't a game? Really?

There's a reason EA bought Playfish for $300m, you know. You're focusing way too much on it being Zynga & FarmVille and not enough on the real lessons here at hand.

John Funk:
It isn't about Zynga. It isn't about Farmville. Yes, Zynga is incredibly shady; that's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand right now. Zynga will not be around forever, nor will FarmVille - but games LIKE them, that find good ways of engaging non-gamers and making them care about things that are essentially computer games by interfacing them with their friends lists and social media? Those games WILL be around. Those games ARE important to the future of our industry, Zynga or whoever else.

I've been aggressively plucking your points since this particular thread started, but its only because I'm confused.

Zygna is successful. Whoop-dee-fucking-do. But what good are they doing? What new innovations are they pioneering? What is good about zygna's design philosophy? What is good about the crushing amounts of spam zygna (indirectly) produces? Why is spam suddenly a good thing? Why is it good to reward people for doing little more than staring at ads and spamming their facebook friends, then punish them for ever doing something else? What, beyond the pure blind luck of getting in with facebook early, have they actually accomplished?

They aren't the first to combine "spam your friends with bullshit" and deprecatory game design. They won't be the last. But remove facebook from the zygna equation, and zygna is as well known a name as outwar. Which is exactly as well known as they should be. A puss filled cyst growing on the ass of gaming and the internet in general.

The only true thing the VP of zygna could say at GDC canada is words to the effect of, "Our success is due entirely to the unmoderated status of facebook. We were far from the first company to build simple browser games around rewarding our users for spamming the internet as a whole with links to our products, but they failed as the last thing administrators and moderators wanted, was for the social networks they maintained to be overrun by spam. But for some reason, facebook doesn't seem to mind. So... thank god it became as popular as it is."

The success of zygna can't translate to other games without the express permission of Live, PSN, or Steam. What should terrify you, me, and everyone alive, is what psn/steam/live would look like with farmville level spam.

Vitor Goncalves:

randommaster:

John Funk:
Facebook will die out.

Social networking and social platforming will not.

No, Facebook will turn into zombie website that hides in the tubes and infects other packets as they go by, slowly turning the entire internet into a mass of websites sending you requests to join your friends.

...Anyways, I wonder what will kill Facebook, another site or an internal collapse. I'm going to say the later, but I am curious as to what would replace it.

Will be replaced by an even more obnoxious site of unspeakable horror. My guess.

What is your guess? I need to know or else life will be incomplete! Tell me!

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.

You're spot on there.
Besides, like it or not, learning an instrument is much more productive use of your time, whatever way you look at it. You gain a much greater understanding and appreciation of music, and I'll be damned if it's not a chick magnet. ;)
Gaming is for instant gratification, especially for those unfamiliar with it. Why would people completely new to games want to spend a lot of time learning nuances and put up with difficult controls when they want fun right now? We may not like casual games, but putting controllers in the hands of people who would never have touched it otherwise is a good thing, no two ways about it. The only way for gaming to be taken seriously is for it to become so commonplace that it's stupid to make uninformed remarks about it.

Outright Villainy:
We may not like casual games...

Actually, I adore casual games. More often than not, when I get home from work, I spend an hour or so playing something from Playfirst or Big Fish Games. And you need look no further than my beloved Peggle mug to know how I feel about anything from PopCap.

Those are all, admittedly, more complex, more "game"y casual games than just about anything you'll find on Facebook, but still.

John Funk:

Fine, you don't like FarmVille or Zynga? Neither do I. I think it's crap. But what about, say, Civilization on Facebook? Are you going to tell me that CIV isn't a game? Really?

There's a reason EA bought Playfish for $300m, you know. You're focusing way too much on it being Zynga & FarmVille and not enough on the real lessons here at hand.

The question is: will it succeed? Like i said before:

aemroth:

rossatdi:

At the very least it will act as a gateway to better games. After all, bring on Civ-Book! http://www.facebook.com/civnetwork

Really, i don't believe so. But in this case, it's pretty much a matter of guessing and personal opinion. If a social network game doesn't adhere to the formula and standards of Zynga's games, for instance, it will never be able to compete with them. And if it resembles a more complex game, akin more to the core gamer crowd, such crowd will prefer the real thing. Such games risk being in that niches middle ground that doesn't appeal to one audience or the other all that much. But let's see... Anyway, i'll also refer to my other post on this:

aemroth:

I guess the big question is if it's possible to bridge the gap. the way i see it, this is a very difficult thing to happen. From my experience, a lot of social gamers don't even care about flash websites like kongregate or armor games, nor the Wii, nor PopCap, etc. I say this from experience with real life acquaintances, and through the course of MM, i posted a few of these links, but all the responses i got were "not interested" and even "tried Peggle... meh..." I keep striking this key, i know, but casual =/= social. An interesting game like Bejeweled Blitz on facebook goes largely unnoticed compared to the staggering success of Zynga. There is a big difference, and it seems very hard to pull social gamers into even casual ones. With games like Civ network and The Witcher announced, there are 3 possible scenarios:

1) They follow Zynga's model. Dead end, nothing new, our worst fears take another step.

2) They build games that resemble a lot the traditional games: facebook users at large will ignore, portion of core gamer crowd likely to adhere for the free aspect, other portion prefers the real deal, and it's probably not profitable enough to sustain itself.

3) Something in between, using some aspects provided by the nature of the platform, but with the feel of a traditional game, if a bit toned down.

The third point is likely the one with the potential to bridge the gap, to make a few social gamers hop over to traditional games. But sitting on a middle niche, will it be profitable enough to sustain? If it is, social gaming will become the lower tier of game complexity, and enter the disruption wave that pushes gamers up the complexity ladder. This is the good scenario. If it fails, developers will have to mimic Zynga, and the whole phenomenon will be isolated, and siphon a large chunk of the traditional game industry into the social gaming industry. Bad scenario.

*sigh* Thoughts? Please, i get the feeling my posts have been getting the "tldr" treatment here :P

Susan Arendt:

Outright Villainy:
We may not like casual games...

Actually, I adore casual games. More often than not, when I get home from work, I spend an hour or so playing something from Playfirst or Big Fish Games. And you need look no further than my beloved Peggle mug to know how I feel about anything from PopCap.

Those are all, admittedly, more complex, more "game"y casual games than just about anything you'll find on Facebook, but still.

Heretic!
Ah, seriously though, I'm not saying all casual games are inherently bad, just the majority of facebook's, and the shovelware that clogs up the wii's library.

I do love me some robot unicorn attack though... :)

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