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Why Do You Want To Kill My Pet? Zynga Shuts Down PetVille, 10 Others 377

Posted by timothy
from the to-virtually-dissect-and-eat-it dept.
Dr Herbert West writes "Executing the cost-reduction plan CEO Mark Pincus announced in November, Zynga has shut down, pulled from the app stores, or stopped accepting new players to more than 10 games such as PetVille, Mafia Wars 2, FishVille, Vampire Wars, Treasure Isle, Indiana Jones Adventure World, Mafia Wars Shakedown, Forestville, Montopia, Mojitomo, and Word Scramble Challenge. Comments from gamers on the shutdown notices included things like 'my daughter is heartbroken' and 'Please don't remove petville. I been playing for 4 yrs. and I'M going to miss my pet Jaime.why do you want cause depression for me and others. Why do you want to kill my pet?' For players that have invested a lot of microtransactions and/or time, this comes as a heavy blow."
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Why Do You Want To Kill My Pet? Zynga Shuts Down PetVille, 10 Others

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  • by mlookaba (2802163) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:45PM (#42443793)
    bye bye
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:49PM (#42443819) Homepage Journal

    Will you finally stop sending Zygna money for doing nothing?

  • "Invest" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beetjebrak (545819) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:50PM (#42443837) Homepage
    Investment implies some form of return.. Sinking time into pointless games in't an investment, it's a waste.

    --Ebenezer Scrooge
  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:51PM (#42443855) Journal
    Exactly. The value lost to geeks is zero, zip, nada, zilch, etc.
    And why should we care about this fluff, anyway?
  • by MarioMax (907837) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:53PM (#42443877)

    It's something that MMO players have had to deal with for some time, and now it's something Facebook gamers now have to deal with: Money you throw at online games, be it in the form of microtransactions or subscriptions, is of little long-term value. You might get enjoyment out of it now, but that doesn't mean the game will be around tomorrow.

    Let this be a lesson to people that haven't learned it yet.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:59PM (#42443971)

    You'd better view it as an entertainment expense no different than cable TV or going to see a Movie or a play or a baseball game. That's what I do. I play Star Trek Online. About once a month I buy $20 worth of game cards. When I went out on a week night to watch a game with friends at a sports bar I'd spend at least that much, probably more on food and drink. Hell It's $15 to see a movie anymore for 2 hours of entertainment. I play STO 20 - 30 hours a month.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:05PM (#42444033) Journal
    Because this is the thing geeky cautionary tales are made of.
  • Re:"Invest" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:11PM (#42444081)

    Investment implies some form of return.. Sinking time into pointless games in't an investment, it's a waste.

    --Ebenezer Scrooge

    Says the Slashdot poster.

    Q.E.D., I suppose....

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:12PM (#42444101)

    It's got nothing to do with micro-transactions, it's about lock-in. They bought a good that can only be used in conjunction with a service from a single vendor. If that vendor decides to stop offering the service, the problem arises because the entire utility of the good is tied to that service. How exactly they paid for the good is irrelevant. It's the fact that they can't continue to use the good independently of the vendor they bought it from.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:13PM (#42444105) Journal

    So, let's get this straight:

    A company, Zynga, runs a business that is based on sucking people in and getting them to engage in small transactions for the purchase of various virtual things, along with incentives to spam their friends.

    As a 'cost reduction measure', Zynga abruptly terminates the virtual things of some of their well-sucked-in customers, simultaneously breaking their habitual connection to whatever game they were playing and providing the nontechies with an object lesson in just how ephemeral 'ownership' is in Zynga's horrid little playground.

    In what universe, exactly, did this plan make any sense? Did Zynga hire some jackoff from an 'enterprise solutions' firm, who thinks that customers will just have to migrate to the shiny new product because support is no longer available for the old one?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:26PM (#42444291)

    Saying this is just a "lesson" is a moral justification for predatory social behavior.

    No, it's a lesson.

    People will have to learn that a game that doesn't support play without relying on company controlled servers have a limited lifespan and the worth of such a game is significantly less than the worth of a game with functionality that doesn't rely external servers.

    People who feel nostalgic about games like monkey island or doom can still play those games. People who see World of Warcraft as a part of their childhood will probably not be able to do the same in twenty years.

    Don't give away your money for something that you aren't given control over.

  • Re:"Invest" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:31PM (#42444335)

    Investment implies some form of return.. Sinking time into pointless games in't an investment, it's a waste.

    Value is subjective, not objective. Someone who keeps playing petsville clearly values whatever he gets from it more than he does the time spent getting it. It's not your time so you don't get to judge whether it's wasted or not.

  • by Roblimo (357) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:35PM (#42444371) Homepage Journal

    200 years ago, more or less, there was a heavily-censored online service called Prodigy, which had one adults-only section called "Frank Discussions" where you could talk about (gasp) sex 'n stuff like that.

    And one day Prodigy closed Frank Discussions, prompting mucho whining from subscribers about how they closed "our" discussion board.

    Yo, peoples: It belonged to Prodigy, not to you. Slashdot belongs to faceless corporate masters and used to belong to Rob Malda. If you don't like it, you can always do the Rusty Foster thing and start Kuro5hin or some such. Otherwise, it's not yours. And those little Facebook games aren't yours. They never have been. If the evil corps want to shut them down, too bad. They're proprietary and/or copyrighted stuff the owners can do with as they wish no matter how evil you think they're being.

    Do you understand why free and/or open source software is a good idea now? :)

  • Enablers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:35PM (#42444373)

    Well, no.

    You enable your children.

    Blah blah blah PXE blah blah saved image blah blah.

    If they can't keep the computer malware free TAKE IT AWAY FROM THEM.

    "You clearly don't have children."
    Perhaps the poster doesn't.
    But you have no idea how to properly deal with yours.

    M

  • Re:"Invest" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:35PM (#42444375)

    Investment implies some form of return.

    Great quote. Hundreds of years of economic history show that's literally a unthinkable concept during a bubble run-up, but around the peak / after the pop everyone agrees it was of course self evident in retrospect. Happens every time, doesn't matter if its tulips, dotcoms, real estate, or, apparently, MMOs / social networking.

    This historical comparison has certain negative implications for the near and medium term future of MMOs and "social networking".

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:44PM (#42444481) Homepage

    What horrible parent allows their kid on Facebook?

  • Re:Enablers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:52PM (#42444551)

    But you have no idea how to properly deal with yours.

    You assume they're my children. Strangely enough, other family members have a desire to breed as well, and even stranger... my reputation as a computer geek makes my phone ring when things like this happen. And the worst of it is, being that they're family and have done so very many thing to help me out over the years, it's not like I can say no. But you go ahead and rock the condescending angle, man.

    Blah blah blah PXE blah blah saved image blah blah.

    Running each scanner one at a time, plus cleaning whatever is missed, takes many hours. After doing this a few times, it becomes easier to just build an image backup/restore. Of course, you, having apparently no family, social obligations, or desire to help anyone but yourself, would never consider the benefits of being able to tell said teenager(s) to "press F12 and wait" and then reaping the favor of others, perhaps leading them to say, replace that water pump on your car that died, etc.

  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:55PM (#42444571) Homepage Journal

    Why are they obligated to continue a service if they are no longer wanting to continue the service? Did they say it would last forever?

    An excellent question, to which I haven't seen an answer yet. Did their TOS promise anything forever? I doubt it. BUT... did their TOS say they may, at any point in the future, discontinue the service and offer no refund or release for future content? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Not that many read the fine print, but the point is that most people, especially kids, are very short-sighted, and expect things they like to last forever. If you're going to kill off something that kids have come to expect, it'd at least be a good idea to be nice about it instead of just yanking the plug.

    Open source the server so someone else can take over the project. More than likely someone will. Otherwise, all that investment people have put into their virtual bits turns to crap overnight, and that's totally unnecessary. and cruel to some.

    They could have fun with it even, send it out with a bang instead of a whimper. Make it possible to give your pet a "going away party" or something. What they're getting right now isn't too far off from the family dog getting hit by a car. Ya I know it's just bits, to you and me, but not to a lot of others. They've got an emotional attachment to those bits.

  • This is excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:56PM (#42444583)

    They're teaching kids from an early age that keeping your stuff in 'The Cloud' is a retarded idea.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:56PM (#42444585)

    Investment implies some form of return.. Sinking time into pointless games in't an investment, it's a waste.

    To you there might be no point but from the messages we can see there is very a much a point, and a return - that is emotional attachment.

    That is the return people get from these games, and why it is very much an investment for them. It also explains why people are MORE put out by an "investment" like this vanishing rather than mere monetary investments failing, because there is a strong emotional component and a loss feels like treachery.

    I'm not saying it's healthy, but that is what people are getting from these systems and you should not discount the power it has over people.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:07PM (#42444693) Journal

    What 'trust' was there in Zynga? There are lots of "freemium" games that people have "invested" time and money into that have disappeared into the ether.

    If you want something that won't disappear 5 minutes after you pay for it, you need to take actual physical possession of it. Or at least get whomever you are purchasing from to say "We won't take this away from you for at least 10 minutes."

  • Re:"Invest" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:14PM (#42444753)

    Pleasure is a great return on investment. Many people invest time (and much more) into games. Some are sports. Others are computers. And yet others comment online on what people should or should not do.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:18PM (#42444789)

    Maybe because we're sick of having to deal with kids who think the world revolves around them because their parents give them everything and don't know how to say 'no'?

  • by Andy Prough (2730467) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:17PM (#42445247)
    Yes - that will work. Cause kids can't get their hands on a device from ANYONE except their parent/guardian - we ALL KNOW THAT.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:22PM (#42445277) Journal

    Oh, I have no reason to assume that they botched the income/cost numbers for each game; but I do have reason to suspect that they may not be accounting for the valuable(and if they aren't lucky, reasonably well publicized, some dumb kid crying over their cyber-pet is definitely human-interest fodder if it's a slow news day) lesson that they will be teaching their customers about becoming invested, emotionally or financially, in Zynga games(or online 'freemium' shit generally) in the future.

    If your business model depends on reeling customers in, engaging them over a period of time, and getting them to buy non-transferable objects associated with your ecosystem, you really don't want to project an image of ill-health or unpredictability. Discussions of 'software as a service', which these sorts of online-only/always connected games are essentially the consumer version of, usually focuses on how the model gives the vendor greater power over the customer; but the knife cuts both ways: if the customer realizes that they are at the vendor's mercy, suddenly the vendor's future behavior(and future) become relevant to their willingness to buy.

    Since the 'return on investment' is hedonic, rather than monetary(and Zynga customers are highly unlikely to be the most calculating buyers), it's an analogy rather than an exact match; but Zynga is essentially raising the discount rate, to account for additional risk, for calculating the net present value of any in-game purchase or time commitment to their games. That could be a bad idea, especially given the fact that loss-aversion tends to be more emotionally potent in informal decision making than desire for gain.

    Unless they accounted for those affects, across their line, I'd argue that they fucked up on this one.

  • Re:Enablers (Score:1, Insightful)

    by baka_toroi (1194359) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:55PM (#42445545) Journal
    Only Slashdot's virgin clueless fags can mod this comment to +5 insightful,
  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:11PM (#42445687) Homepage

    If Steam shut down tomorrow (and assuming no transition was made available to backup games and get standalone installers), a whole lot of people would immediately turn to piracy.

  • Re:Enablers (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:15PM (#42445717)

    Yes, because prohibition works so well! All you have to do is control every aspect of your childrens' life so that they have no independent thought of their own, and then you won't have to worry about anything that they do. Until they snap and murder you before shooting up an elementary school.

    So maybe you could just teach them moderation.

    dom

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @09:07PM (#42446529) Homepage Journal

    You clean the malware from your children's computer?

    I solved that problem. I burnt an installation disk for my kids. I told them that their infestations were beyond repair, and I didn't have time to get their machines running again. Sat my tired old arse at my own computer, and fielded questions about "It wants me to press F8 to continue, what should I do?" "Press F8 and do whatever it says to do next, Son."

    Each of my sons has progressed in his own way, since then. Eldest is expert in reinstalling Windows, because he trashes his system regularly with malware. Youngest has both learned Linux, and learned how to properly protect his Windows system from malware. The middle son? Doesn't even have his own computer, he just has an account on a dozen other people's computers.

    If a kid is old enough to browse the internet unsupervised, then he can learn to deal with malware.

  • Will you finally stop sending Zygna money for doing nothing?

    I agree, but I think there is a much broader lesson to learn here. Much like with Hellgate London, City of Heroes, The Matrix Online, NHL 11, Sims 2, Madden 11, or any online game with only official private servers: They are doomed to die.

    Personally, the lesson I've learned is thus: If you can't host your own server then it's not worth investing time, money, muscle memory or emotion to play these online games. There's a trend for new DRM to require an Internet connection even for single player games. When Sony took down their online service there were many single player games sitting inert on Playstation3s unable to be played. This was a hint of things to come. The servers will get shut down. The games will be killed.

    Even FPS games such as Halo2 suffer: even though my 360 sees my friends' online and knows theirs are playing Halo2, and we're voice chatting, thus have a direct P2P connection, and the Game Engine only needs to know the IP of the other machine to play online: The online gameplay is unavailable because the servers have been shut down (this is ludicrous since you can use Hamachi or other VPN to play via systemlink, so it's not like dedicated game servers are required).

    Personally, I think of Games as a new art medium -- Not that all games are art but some can be; Much in the same way that not all video / audio recordings, photographs or paintings are works of art, but many are. We've already been through the Music DRM debacle with Wallmart and MS shutting down their DRM servers. This is analogous to games being tied to servers that will one day go down. Now many people insist on having DRM free music. With music there were different distribution methods, but what if the DRM had been so embedded into the artworks that when the servers are gone so goes the art? This is what we're facing with games today be it via DRM tied to an online service or the game itself being tied to the same.

    There's no reason why PetVille couldn't exist as a stand alone application that connects to friends via WIFI directly or via Facebook API, and in-game purchases don't have to be required. Games like these were born and bred to die. IMO, it's a waste to make games in such a way and it's folly to get attached to them. I will not morn PetVille, or FIFA, or many other dead or dying games, but I do morn City of Heroes and others. If games are to become an important cultural fixture, great sources of nostalgia, and even be treated as serious artistic mediums, like film and photography have become, then we must stop giving games death sentences at birth. Until then, I simply don't buy or play games that have been sentenced to death.

    The only thing humans have over the apes is that their ideas can out live them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @09:53AM (#42449713)

    And a lot of people would be saying "told you Steam is DRM".

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.

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