Zynga, you aren’t a game company

If you aren’t actually familiar with the name “Zynga,” I’m sure you’ve heard of their products. They are the makers of FarmVille, Mafia Wars, FishVille, FrontierVille, and a bunch of other villes that are just copies of the others with new art. Many people are calling it the next big thing in silicon valley. The thing is, they keep getting counted as a game company. I read an article saying they had become the biggest game company there is, exceeding Electronic Arts in user count. As a serious gamer, that just upsets me. Zynga simply should not be counted in the ranks of EA, Bungie, Infinity Ward, Epic Games, etc.

If you ask me, Zynga is just another social networking company. Their “games” are really just thinly veiled disguises for another way to connect with people. Yes, I realize real games have elements of connecting with people as well, but I wouldn’t say it’s the main point of the product. Ask any longtime gamer and they will likely tell you [insert a Zynga product here] is an absolutely horrible game. There’s also the fact that all Zynga games are completely dependent on facebook. That just seems like a bad idea to begin with, but it also reinforces the fact that they are just social networking extensions. At the end of the day, comparing Zynga with the gaming greats is a prime example of comparing apples to oranges.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out the potential problems with these Zynga games. They make all of their money from people buying virtual “goods” in the game. Yes, paying real money to get stuff that is and always will be just in the game. Scarily, Zynga is well on the way to making over $500 million this year. Who the heck is paying that much money to get some virtual junk? It’s bad enough when people waste money on stuff they don’t need in real life, much less things they don’t need that aren’t even real.

My inspiration for writing this post was an article about Zynga in the NYTimes (I’ll post a link at the bottom), and that article mentioned a lady that said she spends $20-40 per WEEK on FarmVille. I don’t think I’m stretching it to say that’s becoming a problem. A pretty big problem. Are we going to start getting names for game addiction diseases or something? The article also mentioned an unemployed man that spends up to 16 hours per day playing YoVille, another Zynga product. 16 HOURS! Some people are unemployed for a reason. Granted, it did say he had some mental disability but I know of plenty of mentally disabled people that can still handle some jobs.

So, yes, I have multiple issues with Zynga. I don’t think they make very high quality products and should not be compared to actual game makers, and I think they’re luring people into paying money out of an addiction in a way that’s really not much better than what tobacco companies do. Thankfully, facebook has tightened down on how much spam Zynga can create in my news feed, but I still think some people need to take a step back to look at this and go “Hang on a second…” Seriously, think about it.

NY Times article – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/business/25zynga.html

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