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Facebook Mafiosi Go To the Mattresses vs. Zynga

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the concrete-galoshes dept.

Businesses 102

sympleko writes "Zynga has the lion's share of traffic in Facebook applications, and Mafia Wars is one of their most popular social games. Collapsing under the weight of over 26 million users, Zynga has been scrambling to thwart hard-core gamers who reverse-engineer URLs or script the game to optimize their enjoyment. Many of the workarounds have annoyed users who were accustomed to various game features, and even worse, the hastily-deployed changes have resulted in many players losing access to the game, in-game prizes, or statistics. Fed up with a software company seemingly bent on discouraging people from enjoying their product, a number of tagged players have organized a boycott of all Zynga games. The first 24-hour boycott on Sunday 12/13 resulted in an 11% decline in Daily Active Users, and an emergency thread on Zynga's forums (from which most of the flames were deleted). The current boycott, extending Wednesday through Sunday is being supported by a 428K strong Facebook group. At issue is the social contract between software companies and their devoted user base, as well as the nefarious tactics Zynga has used to raise cash."

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I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (4, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469398)

When you've got the CEO bragging about how sleazy they've been, I think that's enough to explain the boycotts.

Me? Never played any of them, don't plan to. Company's evil, and the wisest thing to do would be for everyone to stay away until they disintegrate.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469462)

I too will be technically participating in the boycott, by never playing these games.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (4, Insightful)

TxRv (1662461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469616)

Isn't that a bit like saying "I hate those cigarette companies! I'm quitting smoking" when you've never had a cigarette in your life?

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30471838)

Hence the "technically"...

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30474620)

It would be more like saying you quit smoking since the day you were born.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30469626)

Honestly, it couldn't happen to a more deserving company.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470112)

Oh there are plenty more deserving.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (4, Funny)

Starayo (989319) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470540)

Yeah, but it couldn't happen to them, because the more deserving companies aren't responsible for this. :P

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (4, Funny)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469824)

Me? Never played any of them, don't plan to. Company's evil, and the wisest thing to do would be for everyone to stay away until they disintegrate.

Keep up the good work. It won't be long before they listen to our demands!

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30471044)

if they *ARE* listening, they wouldn't have deleted all the negative comments in their forum !

read the forum and see it for yourself ... it has been sanitized so much that it looks like as if the company is doing the users A BIG FAVOR, and the users are VERY THANKFUL for it !

it makes me puke !

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30469832)

He didn't vet his advertising big whoop! Don't want malware? don't follow the ads/incentives. I have never played any of these crappy games (well i played the pacman clone for a bit till i relised that the developer sucks at flash), so i don't really care what happens to zynga but it seams like attacking them for linking to malware instead of attacking malware produces is retarded.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470444)

You make a solid point, Mr. Pincus. And what's up with all the hatred for spammers?! I mean, come on, we should totally only be going after the advertisers that use spammers.

Zynga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30469866)

http://www.appdata.com/

They over 232 million users over all their apps. a measly 500k will do nothing.

Not to mention thier most popular game farmwille has 73 million alone.

Yes they ahve made mistakes in mafia wars, causing probles, but know what. People were cheating like mad, scripting stuff, etc, that people would leave the game if they didnt try to fix it [they need to do a better job tho].

Re:Zynga (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472336)

They took an 11% hit though, maybe there are more people participating than just that group?

Re:Zynga (2, Insightful)

tolkienfan (892463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472488)

The last boycott caused an 11% drop in "daily active users"
The total number of users is nothing in comparison to the number of users that are active.
11% is pretty big - big enough to grab the attention of Zynga.
Especially if that number is growing (and it looks like it is).

Re:Zynga (2, Insightful)

noric (1203882) | more than 4 years ago | (#30474846)

Yes, daily active users is a proxy for revenue. Furthermore, 11% decline in revenue is >= 11% decline in profit, right? This certainly has Zynga's attention. This is an interesting example of a company pissing off their customers in an extremely lubricated market.

Note that Zynga was never particularly concerned [gamasutra.com] with the quality of their gameplay.

Re:Zynga (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30475802)

People were cheating like mad, scripting stuff, etc,

When the vast majority of the game is a point-and-click fest, with very little role-playing activity involved, scripting isn't cheating, it simply expediting the iterative part of the game. Most of the Zynga games I've seen have a certain amount of "crap accumulation" effort to them that is there to do nothing more than prolong the game play, which in turn is to motivate you to engage in their dubious offers for "points" to acquire said crap more immediately. Having the player by-pass the scams by expedite the mouse clicks can't be called cheating by any reasonable, objective measure of the situation.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (1)

psychogeist (1702322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470424)

I think the fellow was just being a bit tongue-in-cheek... he didn't mean he had done anything illegal. The boycotts can be explained by the exact same reason that people play those games in the first place: BOREDOM... mankind's worst enemy.

Re:I thought it was mostly about the scam stuff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30471006)

why waste time playing a game that belongs to a company that doesn't want you to play?

See no evil... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30469432)

" Collapsing under the weight of over 26 million users, Zynga has been scrambling to thwart hard-core gamers who reverse-engineer URLs or script the game to optimize their enjoyment. Many of the workarounds have annoyed users who were accustomed to various game features, and even worse, the hastily-deployed changes have resulted in many players losing access to the game, in-game prizes, or statistics. Fed up with a software company seemingly bent on discouraging people from enjoying their product, a number of tagged players have organized a boycott of all Zynga games. "

I see. So basically "gamers" try to game the system for their benefit, then complain when said company is "bent on discouraging people from enjoying their product".

Re:See no evil... (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469844)

I'd rather say it has more to do with the sleazy tactics of the parent company (which is what the comment about discouragement is alluding to)... and that the company isn't doing its part to make sure the patches aren't fucking legitimate (this is Mafia Wars, so I use that term loosely) users in the ass with a big rubber dick. Ironically, the game itself is actually designed to do just that. :)

Re:See no evil... (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472808)

"scrambling to thwart hard-core gamers who reverse-engineer URLs"

Personally, my favorite are the games which take you to a high score page with a URL something like this: facebook.com/silly_game/score.php?score=1364

Replace that with facebook.com/silly_game/score.php?score=999999999 and instantly top the leaderboards. Hooray! I don't see why that would be part of the game if they didn't intend for me to do that...

They should (4, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469448)

Make them an offer they can't refuse.

I'm sorry, what? (4, Insightful)

Nikkos (544004) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469464)

Did someone mistake Mafia Wars as something other than a business practice? They make money off of those who think it's worth spending money to have an imaginary gun better than the other free imaginary guns. The "hardcore gamers" run scripts, bots, and generally try to cheat the system at every turn while not spending any money.

If the anti-bot/script stuff bothers your enjoyment of a free online game, go find another?

Re:I'm sorry, what? (2, Interesting)

Handover Phist (932667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469802)

So they're trying to get the unethical types to stop playing a game where you play a gangster? Brilliant! It's like trying to get fishermen to stop using radar, or NASA engineers to stop playing with rockets even after they get home.

Re:I'm sorry, what? (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30474498)

Uh, no. Just like someone would be annoyed that someone in World of Warcraft got all the best gear by REing the game and using bots and exploits...same with this. It doesn't matter if you are playing a game about being a gangster of it is a game about magical ponies, if it has a multiplayer element to it, people want a level playing field.

Did you really say 'level playing field' and WoW? (1)

Behrooz (302401) | more than 4 years ago | (#30481058)

Uh, no. Just like someone would be annoyed that someone in World of Warcraft got all the best gear by REing the game and using bots and exploits...same with this. It doesn't matter if you are playing a game about being a gangster of it is a game about magical ponies, if it has a multiplayer element to it, people want a level playing field.

A level playing field? In an MMO? Yeah, you're dreaming-- if you want to compete with other people on a 'level playing field', play a game that's actually designed to do that [crispygamer.com] , instead of one designed to keep pushing the little addiction buttons in your brain so you'll stick around and be a good little revenue producer.

Games? (2, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469526)

What, people play games on Facebook?

I thought those were bots designed to annoy you with "gifts" and spam your friends' pages with garbage.

--
BMO

Re:Games? (1)

Jkasd (1663231) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470208)

The game is just the vector.

It's "going to the mat." The mat. (0)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469556)

It's "going to the mat." As in the wrestling mat.
Not "going to the mattress" which is something I generally associate with getting screwed.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (5, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469588)

No. Going to the matresses is an old mafia term when one Family would get into a fight with another family or was worried about the possibility of a fight. The term comes because when it occurred important people or people who they didn't want to get hurt would find an apartment far away and they'd rent it and sleep on matresses with not much other than their bodyguards. I don't know if this is actually a genuine term, but it is quite old. It is used in the original Godfather. So whether or not it is a real term, it makes sense given that we are talking about a Facebook game that revolves around a glorified fantasy version of the Mafia.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469646)

I think your intepretation of the saying is wrong. Going to the mattress was slang for going to get the guns. People would keep their long guns under the mattress.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469702)

Possibly, but a quick google search shows that most of the websites quoting the phrase in the Godfather have the full quote as "That Sonny's runnin' wild. He's thinkin'a going to the mattresses already. We gotta find a spot over on the West Side" which certainly sounds like it is talking about finding a hidden location.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469864)

This is getting offtopic but if "Sonny" is "going to the mattresses" he could be getting his guns. So everybody not on his side should hide. You both are just looking at it from the opposite angles.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469902)

The people talking are Clemenza and one of the other Corleones. So they are on Sonny's side. In any event, there is agreement that the OP's remark is incorrect.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30470104)

Mario Puzo explained it along the lines of JoshuaZ in the book version of "The Godfather."

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30471250)

Doesn't matter if they are on his side or not, when the whacked out monkey starts slinging poo everywhere, it's best to take cover.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30473602)

for those of us that get laid on a regularly basis (ie, not you), it means something else.

Well, then, I stand corrected! (2, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470210)

I don't know if this is actually a genuine term, but it is quite old. It is used in the original Godfather. So whether or not it is a real term, it makes sense given that we are talking about a Facebook game that revolves around a glorified fantasy version of the Mafia.

Seems like I've heard the phrase wrong all of my life, and some Googling seems to confirm what you are saying.

I bow to your superior knowledge.

Re:Well, then, I stand corrected! (2, Interesting)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472074)

Going to the mat is also a legitimate phrase, and does indeed have the meaning you bring up, It just isn't applicable in this case.

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (2, Interesting)

nauseum_dot (1291664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472396)

The actual history of "going to the mattresses" comes from the Joey Gallo and the war between him and the Profaci family. The term appeared in the headlines in the early 60's in the headlines in New York newspapers.

Info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Gallo#Gallo-Profaci_war [wikipedia.org]
http://tomfolsom.com/blog/ [tomfolsom.com]

Re:It's "going to the mat." The mat. (1)

MrHops (712514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30478562)

The actual history of "going to the mattresses" comes from the Joey Gallo and the war between him and the Profaci family. The term appeared in the headlines in the early 60's in the headlines in New York newspapers.

Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Gallo#Gallo-Profaci_war [wikipedia.org] http://tomfolsom.com/blog/ [tomfolsom.com]

Also, this term appeared in the book "The Valachi Papers". From what I recall, it is supposed to mean getting serious about a mob war, where the various mob soldiers would live in rented houses/apartments, sleeping on mattresses, for the duration of the war.

Figures (5, Informative)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469638)

Business folk have been shooting around Pincus interviews for months now. "What is it that makes him so great?" "How can I invent a simple Facebook game and be rich?" "It's so easy, right?" etc.

It's bad enough that a trusted associate is trying to get me to drop everything and develop "apps," because everybody knows they're the next big thing.

But the fact is, Pincus and his people (with great encouragement from his mentor, who *only* cares about money) looked up every sleazy trick in the book and put them all out there. Now they get Sleazy results, and the media suddenly have occasion to finish up the Pincus Story by presenting a dark side. They'll be all over that.

No, it's mattresses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30469648)

Never read "The Godfather," huh?

I stopped playing ALL of that crap some time back. (1, Informative)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469662)

I can't stand needy people, and I can't stand needy programs that NEED to be on my wall and whore for attention.

The only "App" I still use on Facebook is the movie app, yeah, I right a few movie reviews, find out what the movies are about and rate them. I don't want addicting Mafia, Farm, Navel Gazing crap.

Re:I stopped playing ALL of that crap some time ba (2, Funny)

AnotherShep (599837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30475692)

I'm sure your reviews are righteen well.

Re:I stopped playing ALL of that crap some time ba (2, Funny)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30478220)

I right a few movie reviews

I'm sure their great. :o

Re:I stopped playing ALL of that crap some time ba (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484268)

Crap, I can't believe I did that. Of all the SNAFUs I usually make that's normally not one of them.

that's like boycotting gasoline (2, Insightful)

johanatan (1159309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469670)

A boycott can only be effective if the entity being boycotted has a real risk of losing customers. It would be much better if that 11% decline were permanent. What message are they really sending by returning to the game the following day?

Re:that's like boycotting gasoline (2, Interesting)

louisadkins (963165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30471142)

If they are serious enough to boycott for a day, they might well be serious enough to drop it completely. If nothing else, they show that some (in this case, at least 11%) of the user base would likely jump ship for a different app that could meet the community standards/requirements.

As we all know... (3, Insightful)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469676)

...protests about Facebook on Facebook tend to work out very well. It's just like those "don't buy gas on day X" chain letters that get bounced around whenever gas prices take a hike upwards.

Re:As we all know... (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470096)

Well, gas isn't $4 a gallon any more is it?

Re:As we all know... (2, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470394)

Well, gas isn't $4 a gallon any more is it?

You absolutely right! On an unrelated note, I've recently come into possession of an amazing tiger-repellant rock that I'd be willing to sell you...

Re:As we all know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30471556)

I'd be interested in that rock. I live near a jungle, and often have problems with tigers. Does it come with a guarantee?

Re:As we all know... (1)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30474650)

It does indeed*.

*Guarantee void in Tennessee.

Re:As we all know... (2, Insightful)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30482650)

I'd be interested in that rock. I live near a jungle, and often have problems with tigers. Does it come with a guarantee?

Guarantee?! Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your life's sake, you might want to think about buying a quality product from me.

Re:As we all know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30473912)

Well, gas isn't $4 a gallon any more is it?

You absolutely right! On an unrelated note, I've recently come into possession of an amazing tiger-repellant rock that I'd be willing to sell you...

I would like to buy your rock.

Why can't they just get rid of apps altogether? (3, Interesting)

TxRv (1662461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469680)

To make FB usable for its original purpose you have to block and hide metric f*cktonnes of spam from friends who wanted to find out what Harry Potter character they are or who think some picture of an egg (with free spam subscription!) is a nice gift to send a friend. Add to that the significant loss of privacy that comes with actually posting anything; I'd cancel my account right away if FB weren't the only way I can keep up with some of my friends and family.

Re:Why can't they just get rid of apps altogether? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30482772)

Gee, the telephone, email, or snail mail isn't working for you? (...even if you originally GOT their contact information from FB)

Re:Why can't they just get rid of apps altogether? (1)

TxRv (1662461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30497254)

No, they aren't working for me. These people never check their emails, and I hate talking on the phone.

There's also the fact that sometimes I want to keep in touch without giving away my real email adddress or my mobile #.

From a former employee of Mark Pincus (5, Interesting)

tjcrowley (1702258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469716)

I used to work for Mark Pincus at his "failed" social networking site, Tribe.net. It didn't fail, he ran it into the ground because it wasn't making the money he wanted - meaning it wasn't providing him with three mansions and two private aircraft the way Zynga has. It's kind of interesting though, Mark was starting Zynga exactly when Tribe.net users asked us to start a subscription program to raise money to buy needed hardware for the site. Surprise - we made $30,000 the first month, and any time I asked for money for new database servers or to pay contractors, they claimed there was no money. It's pretty obvious to me where the money went. This is NOTHING. This story has been picked up by large media and is only going to get bigger - I was interviewed last week by Details Magazine about what a scumbag Mark is. Sadly you can't read that until March - but that's justr a measure of how fucked this company is. Up until this scandal, they were claiming Zynga would IPO in a month or two. That talk has all vanished. THESE are the types of scumbags that need to be ridden out of Silicon Valley on a rail.

Re:From a former employee of Mark Pincus (2, Interesting)

Mr Pleco (1160587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469938)

I remember hearing about tribe.net, it was hilarious to see the video on techcrunch with the interview where they mentioned that Pincus started two other internet startups, only mentioned tribe.net by name and didn't mention the tragic end of that company. Let's not even get into how EVERY SINGLE GAME that zynga has made is a rip-off of another previously successful game. They've not got a single original title to their name. God bless techcrunch for blowing this company wide open.

Re:From a former employee of Mark Pincus (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470062)

Zynga is basically the EA of Facebook...

Re:From a former employee of Mark Pincus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30470084)

As I am interested in this, can anyone point to the other "previously succesful games" that, say, Farmville and Mafia Wars were based on ?

Re:From a former employee of Mark Pincus (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30470270)

Per Wikipedia

Farmtown Release: Early 2009
Farmville Release: June 2009

The mafia games are trickier, the best info I could find pointed to Mob Wars as being the first mafia game with over 2.5 million players by august 2008. Mafia Wars was released Jan 1st 2009.

For their other major games:

Fishville, based off of Fish World and Happy Aquarium
Zynga poker.... well, it's poker. Not much original there.
Petville, based off of Pet Society
YoVille, based off of Habbo Hotel (non-facebook game)
Cafe World, based off of Restaurant City

Also see zynga's article in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zynga#Replication_of_existing_games

Social Contract (4, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469778)

So would be this be the social contract where it is A-OK for power gamers to abuse and exploit the game because if they can do it they are supposed to be doing because otherwise they wouldn't be able to do it and then the game company gets to try to crack down on the power gamers which doesn't work except for pissing off the normal players, correct? And then the power gamers get all indignant when anyone tells them they shouldn't be doing something because it is the power gamer's responsibility to not be responsible for anything but doing what is most advantageous for them no matter the cost to everyone else?

I've seen this statement popping up a lot recently but this is exactly why we can't have nice things.

Re:Social Contract (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470072)

A lot of the games are not really prone to abuse or exploits AFAIK... Mafia Wars, for instance. To do anything - PvE, PvP, etc. - requires some sort of resource such as Energy or Stamina. It takes time for it to replenish, typically. I can't see how a powergamer would stress the resources other than using them as soon as they come into play.

Re:Social Contract (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473374)

You completely missed the point of his post.

In the summary, it states

At issue is the social contract between software companies and their devoted user base.

Well, that social contract goes both ways. The player side of the social contract is that they will play the game by the rules and as intended. So, now you have players who are breaking the social contract complaining that the company who made the game is breaking the social contract by trying to prevent players from breaking the social contract by using bots and other unintended forms of play.

This whole boycott is an exercise in irony. "Hey, no fair stopping us from cheating!"

Like the GP said, this is why we can't have nice things. People defect and renege on their side of the social contract but want the other parties to uphold said social contract.

Re:Social Contract (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473744)

I don't think facebook games fall into the category of "nice things."

In fact, if I could somehow ensure that I can't have what you define as "nice things," I feel that I would take every necessary step to do so. Facebook (and MySpace!) would be much less retarded, in my opinion.

The poster has got to be... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30469792)

This has got to be one of the Douche bags on the Mafia Wars forums... I can only imagine the guy behind this or fueling the fire is this douche bag, who is trying to make his own application to compete against Zynga... He claims that he and his "partner" are going to make a "bug free" game. Here is the guy: http://www.facebook.com/richard.ressler?ref=profile [facebook.com] and his page claiming to be developing an app that will compete against the behemoth Zynga has created: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ATTN-Mafia-Wars-Player-Do-you-want-a-New-and-Better-Game-to-Play/191500816946?ref=mf [facebook.com]

Re:The poster has got to be... (1)

Mr Pleco (1160587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469952)

As long as it's not a game where you start with ten "energy", 100 "health", 3 "stamina" and your standard attack/defense setup then I don't care what they do.

About the "Cheaters" (5, Insightful)

Mr Pleco (1160587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30469890)

The problem at hand here is that zynga has created two games that encourage cheating.

MafiaWars is the worst because of the combat system. If you don't have at least 500 friends who play and are added to your "mafia" then you're shafted from the outset. This encourages the dangerous practice of adding people you don't know to your personal facebook account OR breaking facebook ToS by creating a second account for yourself.

Then you have the weight in the combat formula of the equipment being much higher than the weight of your stats. A person with lousy combat stats but maxed equipment will beat somebody with twice their stats but lousy equipment. They also have free trading of items between players with items that require (at my last calculation) over a year of play to be able to get the best equipment available.

To top things off their game isn't in flash or something that's not easily machine readable, their entire game is presented in an iframe, so it's relatively simple to create scripts that interact with the game directly using greasemonkey or bookmarklets with javascript. The best examples of these is the Mafia Wars AutoPlayer (http://www.mafiawarsplayer.org/) or Spockholm's bookmarklets (http://www.spockholm.com/mafia/bookmarklets.php)

Combine that with a game that's designed to appeal to highly competitive players and you have the perfect recipe for disaster for rampant cheating. Whether it's people who buy their combat items or people who run multiple accounts to "farm" items for their own use, it's all against the rules. The hilarity for me is watching zynga "combat" the cheaters and the bots when they could fix the game mechanics to make the cheating and bots unnecessary. Even if it was something as simple as offering the loot for sale in their ingame store, they would put the cheaters and under-the-table loot sellers out of business, and actually be honest about their microtransaction business model. People would complain that the richest player would be the one to win, but that's the way it is right now, so why not own up to it?

FarmVille is a different beast, in that they've got just about the worst leveling system I've seen in a game yet. A plant crop that grows in four hours will give you the same experience to grow, and more money per hour, than a crop that grows in 24 hours. That's just a broken game.

The clicks required for farmville are what is most astonishing. The average person will click 1200+ times per DAY playing that stupid game. The best thing they have to minimize that is the farm equipment, which naturally require gas to run that you have to buy, but even with that you're forced to click 300+ times in the best case scenario. I'm trying to make easy to use tools with autohotkey that I'm hosting on my site (http://www.kort-pleco.com/) but it's a challenge finding the time to do that. There's other people who sell full fledged farmville autoplayers, but the point is that it's still the game that is broken and should be changed to fix these problems.

A great example of a fun game that's NOT click intensive is happy aquarium by crowdstar or zynga's rollercoaster kingdom. They've both struck a great balance how much use you get per click, and I think it's a step in the right direction for facebook games in general.

Zynga is a game maker yes, but it doesn't mean that their popularity corresponds to the quality of their games. It just means they're able to out advertise everybody else using money they scammed from their players.

Re:About the "Cheaters" (2, Informative)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470184)

You obviously have spent any time playing Farmville, or just don't understand how to select crops. Sure, a crop that takes 1 day has much XP as one that takes 4 hours. But .. a crop that takes 1 day only earns 2 xp/day/square (one to plow, one to plant). A crop that takes 4 hours gets 12 xp/day/square because you can plant it 6 times. So it takes a lot of effort to level up at first. Spending effort at first to gain rapid xp gets one into higher return crops. Everytime you make 100,000 coins, you can buy windmills to get 1,000xp and then turn around and sell them for 5,000. In other words, you can then BUY xp. The ribbons also are helpful at first, and realizing that one hay bail is a decoration, or one tent is a building makes it easy to get all the ribbons in a category spending minimum amounts of coins (not money). Yep .. a lot of clicking. Maybe someone who doesn't like all that clicking or taking the time to understand how to exploit the game just isn't very detail oriented.

Once you get high enough, you can get crops that you get 4 xp/day/square for. Not as good as the 12, but a lot less clicking. So the game becomes a matter of what one is willing to expend to rise in levels .. you want to rise fast, pick corps with short durations and plan on doing a LOT of clicking. Once you get high enough, pick groups that have high daily returns and buy xp.

I play 30 minutes/day now in 10 minute intervals .. once when I get up, once a lunch, and once at night. I use the farm equipment and only plant 150 plots/cycle so I don't run out of gas. It has slowed my advance, but I find it still enjoyable.

Yes .. I have probably played the game too much. But I haven't spent one cent on it, and I find some pleasure in balancing the increases in level with the least amount of effort. I'm sure I'll tire of it someday, but as long as my cousin is ahead of me, I'll keep playing until I pass him!

Re:About the "Cheaters" (4, Insightful)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30471356)

It makes sense that the XP gain from a rapidly-growing crop is higher.

A 4-hour growing crop would bring you back to the game (and the ads!) more often than a 24-hour one :-p

Cheap, but it -does- make sense if you look at it from their view ;)

Re:About the "Cheaters" (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472546)

It is completely possible to play Mafia Wars and totally ignore the PvP aspects of it. You'll lose a negligible amount of money from people beating you up, but money really isn't that big a deal and is completely safe if you put it in the bank. I decided quite early that I didn't care for the PvP aspects and mostly ignore them. I'm almost done with the New York missions and will not be playing it any further once I complete those.

Re:About the "Cheaters" (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473792)

MafiaWars is the worst because of the combat system. If you don't have at least 500 friends who play and are added to your "mafia" then you're shafted from the outset.

There are a number of *Wars games, of which MafiaWars is only one (albeit probably the most well-known). The same applies to others, such as Vampire Wars.

What a bunch of freakin cry babies (0, Troll)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470060)

Zynga making money because people are too stupid to not give their email addresses or cell phone numbers to companies that misuse them is a new form of evolution. The strong (i.e. those that don't fall for these scams) survive, the weak fail. Zynga doesn't give a rats ass about the boycotts because unless they actually stop spending money, having 11% less on their servers is doing them a favor.

In other words .. since I don't spend a dime on Zynga products but use their service to play games, and they are not getting any ad revenue for it, then if I joined in the boycott it would have a POSITIVE impact on their system because it lets those that spend money use resources that I'm not tying up.

No one makes anyone play Farmville. I do because it's entertaining to me .. I can play for 10 minutes and walk away until my next round of crops come due. The entertainment in it for me was how to get the most out of the game for the least effort and NO money. I'm at level 33, have bypassed all my friends but one that started before me, and haven't spent one red cent.

If people aren't smart enough to figure out how to enjoy something that is free without spending money on it .. then who gives a fuck why they get pissed off. If someone gets so wrapped up in a FREE game that they get upset when the engine goes down and they lose some crops, stop playing it and go spend money on a real video game that requires skill. Unless they are too inept to handle real video games. But then again, there is always solitaire or Plants Vs Zombies (I love PVZ).

As to the whiners whining about 'social contracts' and 'being exploited', what a bunch of feel-good liberal BS. Do you make sure the person buying your used car buys it for a fair price, or do you get as much out of them as you can. And when you buy a used car, do you pay extra for it, or do you try to pay as little as possible. We ALL take advantage of other people, it's just a question of to what degree.

I was in a motorcycle crash several months ago. The person driving the car that hit me had the minimum coverage that Arizona state law requires. So MY insurance company had to pay for what hers couldn't. Anyone whining about this poor college student exploiting the system, or me being taken advantage of because I was smart enough to pay for a decent insurance policy??? But I'll bet if it was the other way around, there would be all kinds of law suits flying around.

So go ahead and whine about the mean old company taking advantage of the stupid people without doing anything illegal if it makes you feel good and all puffed up about how moral and upstanding you are. Just make sure the next time you sell your car, you take as little for it as possible so you aren't a hypocrite.

Re:What a bunch of freakin cry babies (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470162)

The people spending money on the games likely are motivated by the idea that they'll be beating all these other people at the game. If the game is perceived as unpopular, why bother spending money to win when no one cares? I agree free players have minimal effect, but it sounds like their boycott can draw large enough numbers that it could discourage paying players from spending more.

Re:What a bunch of freakin cry babies (1)

psychogeist (1702322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470392)

Totally agree - only in an era where everyone is used to getting everything on the web for free could you put out a FREE game and still get this kind of reaction for having the AUDACITY to decide on a model that works for the good of both user and creator... How the hell are they supposed to make a living? $1.00 an app? Yes, the annoying ad tactics are lame, I will concede - but you must realize: it is because we are all too cheap to spend any money on the web... hell, they can't even make the money off ad rev. anymore (exceptions like google aside) ... the whole damn system is falling apart at the seams if you ask me... but that's another story (which I am betting will unfold rapidly over the coming months... but i digress). Pay up or shut up.

The problem is... (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473326)

Sure, you may be "smart enough" to not get suckered in by scams and their special offers from the partner companies and shady advertisers, but these games are inherently viral. Even when you don't pay money, they encourage (or force) you to expand your game social network (mafia size, number of neighbors, etc) in order to get past certain points of the game.

Unless you are playing in a bubble, and don't invite other friends or post links to the game and do other things to encourage more people to play, you are still promoting it as you play and helping it spread further and to help more people get duped. To say they should just be smart enough not to get duped is pretty naive. The average person is probably not as smart as the average slashdotter... and that's a scary thought some days. ;-)

Re:The problem is... (0, Flamebait)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473894)

Yep .. it's viral. But many games are to some extent since they depend on us getting our friends hooked to buy more. How is getting all your friends together to play Counterstrike on a 'free' server (requiring them all to purchase the game) any different??? <sarcasm>Oh .. Steam isn't a greedy company that takes advantage of it's customers.</sarcasm> I guess it's OK when geeks like a game and overlook the hypocrisy of playing their favorite game v/s whining about how stupid Farmville is, when the games are much closer in nature. Ok .. Counterstrike is a crap load more fun and actually takes skill, but I don't have little 13 year old kids running around knifing me in Farmville.

And while Farmville encourages one to add friends, it isn't necessary. For one, the other account doesn't have to 'do' anything, so setting up 20 Yahoo email/Facebook accounts is all that is needed to get 20 friends. Secondly, it only takes slightly longer in Farmville if one doesn't get neighbors. I created a second account just so I could have enough neighbors to expand once, and decided to play the second account with only two neighbors. I am progressing along quite nicely. In fact, it's a bit easier since I don't have all the gifts to accept or neighbors to visit in it.

So yes .. one just has to be smart enough to figure out the basic concepts. And then take RESPONSIBILITY for deciding whether or not to sign up for Netflicks, spend real money, or invite all of their friends in order to progress faster through the game.

So those that get 'taken in' aren't just that smart, the ones that get taken in are also greedy. They want to play something for nothing, and don't want to take responsibility for their own greedy actions. I remember visiting the Farmville forum a few weeks ago when they were having problems and couldn't believe the number of people that were incensed they couldn't get to their farms.

Re:The problem is... (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30477268)

There is a difference between requiring 7 of your friends to have an 8 player game of counter-strike, and having to have 7 friends so you're allowed to get a shotgun.

Of course enjoyment of a game can be limited by how many people play it, however Zynga ties advancement to how many friends you get to play, and that's the difference. You yourself admitted to creating a dummy account just to help your advancement in one of your games.

Also, many of the deals from their partners don't necessarily look like scams at all, and seem to be legit to the average person. The scam factor is often well hidden, and lots of people aren't aware of seedy many of the companies going through Facebook are. Being within Facebook gives them a false sense of security. I know to look out for this stuff, and you do too, but you are naive if you don't think there are some seemingly legitimate offers that could fool an average (non-paranoid like slashdotters) person.

Re:What a bunch of freakin cry babies (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30474674)

The only reason you are playing farmville is to be a higher level than your friends. It is a stupid game with stupid mechanics. I imagine to play it that long and keep your sanity you must be using some form of mouse/keyboard recorder so that you can buy/sell hay bales. If not, I truly pity the amount of time you waste on that game.

And money really doesn't matter in that game other than reducing your number of clicks...then again, I suppose you can buy more money to buy/sell more hay bales.

In any case, I am normally a huge advocate of people doing whatever they find fun and it being no one else's business. But I can't help but feel a little sad for people hooked on farmville. It is just retarded on so many levels. There are good games on Facebook. Try bejeweled blitz. Made by a non-evil game company.

How about you play but don't pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30470074)

Wouldn't an appropriate response be to constantly play the games (maybe even to the DDoS level but that's not needed) so you load their servers but DO NOT pay them any money for their in game items, thus making it so their income gets cut down at the same time their servers get overloaded. You just increased their overhead and decreased their income.

At least they are innovative (0)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470386)

If you count copying as innovation. Zyngas two most popular games (Mafia Wars and FarmVille) are both copies of other games (Mob Wars [wikipedia.org] and Farm Town [wikipedia.org] .)

Re:At least they are innovative (1)

TornCityVenz (1123185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30471772)

You seem to be assuming that mob wars is original...maybe to face book, but their a browser based game called Torn city or now even just torn.com that's been around a lot longer than facebook.

No longer a player (3, Interesting)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30470832)

As of the latest stunt, I've stopped playing MW. The problem for me, is that ... well, you have the CEO bragging about how nefarious they've been. That raised alarm bells. But ... mostly I just detest the quantity of noise they seem intent on generating. I mean, for a facebook integrated game, I know full well that most of my friends list already know I play mafia wars. They either already play themselves, or they don't give a toss about what the spam is. If they play themselves, then ... one notification a day is really all that's necessary. OK, maybe two. But ... certainly they don't need a 'feed' page filled with mafia wars spam.
And that's why I've stopped, removed the account, and blocked everything. Simply because I no longer believe that Zynga have any ethics to them whatsoever. 'Secret Stash' was the final straw - previous 'spams' have been 'giving free stuff' and as such optional. I did spam a couple a day, but no more. When they've changed a gameplay mechanic to stop working _unless_ you spam a friend, and they click on the link you send... too much.
But that was enough to make me realise that the game is actually not all that interesting anyway - it has very little depth, and is just about 'acquisition of more stuff'. And frankly, Progress Quest is better at it.

Re:No longer a player (1)

ZerdZerd (1250080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484308)

Progress Quest [progressquest.com] is the best game ever. I play it all day and night!

Mafia (0, Troll)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30471956)

So a game called "Mafia wars", which is about mafia, stops players from using mafia tactics (cheating) to win?

Did anyone else notice the language in the post? (1)

TheRealRainFall (1464687) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472038)

The author refers to botting as "script the game to optimize enjoyment". While i personally am not opposed to botting this is true of all botting. Most people refer to this as cheating because you're not playing the game but the reality is you are merely automating mundane tasks that we consider "below our pay grade".

People playing or people played? (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472474)

Do they actually care? From what I understand, the mere act of installing the app has given Zynga everything valuable you have. They have your demographic data, and the data of all your friends. If you play the game every day, they earn nothing new from you (aside from demo data of new friends). They've already gotten the milk, leather and meat from the cow. Right now they're just gnawing your bones hoping for some overlooked marrow. Otherwise, you can go away and they won't care. What good is the boycott?

Social contract? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30472592)

Zynga has been scrambling to thwart hard-core gamers who reverse-engineer URLs or script the game to optimize their enjoyment.

What about the player side of the social contract? You know, the side that says players will not try to garner an unfair advantage and will play the game as intended.

Or, is this just another case of mass hypocrisy?

Re:Social contract? (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473380)

And since when did the mafias played with the rules?

Your sig (1)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30474722)

1997 called, it wants its site design back.

Re:Your sig (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30475420)

1990 called, it wants its line back.

Optimize what now? (0)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30473606)

If you want to complain about the game because it's stupid, I'm with you. (But in that case, I'd suggest forgetting about the temporary boycot; easier to just not play stupid games.)

If you want to complain about the company because it manipulates the game in ways that abuse the players to extract cash from them (which the company's executives brag about doing), I'm with you. (Again, the solution is not a temporary boycot; if you don't want to be taken advantage of, don't.)

But if you want to complain that they use counter-measures to prevent, detect, and/or punish cheating (which you've cleverly called "optimizing your enjoyment"), then get lost. "Hey, I'd enjoy this game more if I were winning more fights against other players, which I cuold do with a more powerful weapon, which I can get by reverse-engineering the URL that would be generated if I'd done something to earn such a weapon. I think I'll 'optimize my enjoyment'."

There's a difference between taking away a feature to which users are accustomed vs. fixing a bug that users are accustomed to being able to exploit.

Server maintenance (1)

motherpusbucket (1487695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30474832)

As an addicted MW player, I've noticed that Zynga has strategically scheduled at least 2 long outages to occur during these 'boycotts'. I find that an interesting coincidence.

Hastily hyphenated adverbs. (0, Flamebait)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30475642)

the hastily-deployed changes

You never hyphenate with an adverb ending in -ly. This is one hard and fast rule of the English language.

The purpose of the hyphen in this construct is to remove ambiguity over which words are paired. Since "The hastily changes" makes no sense semantically, there's no purpose served by the hyphen (that isn't served by the -ly suffix itself, i.e. "The haste changes" or more clearly "The haste deployed changes," vs. "The haste-deployed changes...").

"Family-owned restaurant" is correct because "Family" is not an adverb.

Then you have the instances where the hyphen is incorrectly omitted, such as "eight legged freaks" and "game changing performance". The game doesn't change the performance, the performance changes the game, thus "game-changing performance".

It's disturbing how often this error crops up not just in popular media but also on Wikipedia and modern journalism.

I'd have tagged the story as typo instead, but I seem to have no access to tagging anymore. Clicking on the triangle has no effect: it's not even recognized by the mouse as a clickable object. I run Firefox 2.0.0.20 because nothing newer will run on this workplace-provided operating system and I have no authority to update the missing libpangocairo and GTK+ dependencies.

Correction (0, Flamebait)

MWoody (222806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30482286)

You misspelled "cheater" as "hardcore gamer."

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