Saturday, July 24, 2010

FarmVille Go Round in Circles

I think Zynga (maker of the game CrackVi....I mean, FarmVille) finally has gotten the hint. (with apologies to you lucky people who have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Briefly, FarmVille is a game you play on Facebook with your other Facebook friends sucke....I mean, involved in playing it.  You plant a virtual farm, you harvest it, you replant it, you get and receive gifts, you find things in your friend's farms while tending them, you collect same for points, you get to buy and decorate with Tuscan Villas, waterfalls, Eiffel Towers and log cabins, you do co op farming with your friends, you have barn raising with your friends...the key here is "with your friends".  Zynga has some very good psychologist designers to make sure you are "hooked" and they have done their job well.

And if you have a friend playing FarmVille, chances are they've already asked you to be their neighbor.


As your farm grows bigger minutes farming become hours....

There are three more things about FarmVille you need to know:
a.  It is supposedly free but a lot of people spend real money on all these limited edition animals, buildings, decorations and what-have you.  Or they get tired of barn raising and spend money to complete construction on buildings and whatever. (the latest is a "beehive".)  The point is, they've spent their own money on this game.
b.  The people in "a" get madder than hell when their real life purchases suddenly disappear in the newest glitch.  Actually, the free playing people, like me, get kind of mad too.
c.   Communicating to Zynga is like...well, like any other software company, they haven't won awards for their "customer service".

You see, FarmVille is just a tiny bit more than a year old.  It became successful so quickly that it is still in beta.  And computer folks know about betas.  Right?  So what has Zynga done the past year?  Tried to fix things?  Of course not!  Instead, they have spent all their time creating even more limited edition stuff, buildings, co op ideas and so forth.  So this becomes like a car crash ready to happen - you are there watching it in slow motion: every time they put on something new the glitches get worse, and worse, and worse, and worse....

Three of my neighbors have quit the game.  Two more tried briefly to play and very quickly decided not to bother.  I'd love to know how many of the 24,000,000. people that supposedly have played FarmVille at least once still do.  Zynga, I think the term here is "losing your customer base".  Not good.  I'm sure Facebook isn't thrilled either.


After the latest episode of glitches (farms turning into fields of giant unintentional crop circles, constant "Saving Farm! Don't Close Your Browser" messages [translation: better reload fast, anything else you do on your farm if you believe he message will go into cyberspace] interrupting harvesting, plowing and planting, Zynga FINALLY announced they were going to...get ready for this one:  concentrate on fixing the glitches!

Why does computer software do this to people?  Why do we, the end user, put up with "improved" software that doesn't work as well as the last version?  Why do we accept these products that really are betas (at least Zynga is honest about FarmVille being in beta) where we wouldn't accept a car that was worse than your last car?  But it's always been like that since the advent of computers.

So let's hope that those people in Zynga land actually fix their game before they introduce anything else to said game.

Maybe, though, I should hope they don't succeed.  Because it may be the only way I (and many others) will break that addiction.

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