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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 @02:45PM (#42443793)
    bye bye
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386)
      Exactly. The value lost to geeks is zero, zip, nada, zilch, etc.
      And why should we care about this fluff, anyway?
      • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:05PM (#42444033) Journal
        Because this is the thing geeky cautionary tales are made of.
      • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:14PM (#42444117)

        First they came for my pet and I said nothing
        Then they came for my fish and I still said nothing
        etc
        Just wait for the delicious tears when someday WoW shuts down

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:17PM (#42444165)

        And why should we care about this fluff, anyway?

        You clearly don't have children. You will learn what a Bieber is, and why iTunes gift cards and not the President, is the current incarnation of the anti-christ. You will discover the joys of cleaning out a malware infested computer in your teenager's bedroom on a biweekly basis, to the point that you, in a fit of anger, spend a weekend building a vm image with a pxe server and restoration image so your solution to their pepetual inability to listen to you and then try to actively override any security features designed to keep them from screwing it up is "press f12 and wait an hour, and no bitching about your 'lost music', dumbass." And you will also learn why a random sampling of teenager's glowy rectangles show that Facebook is almost always on it... and thus, Zynga is as well.

        • Enablers (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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:Enablers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:52PM (#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 Andy Prough (2730467) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:17PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:44PM (#42444479)

          I would tell my son that he's a faggot for being so needy for attention, like a little girl is, and then drive the point home by bragging about how my generation jumped bikes at construction sites and played sports instead of being big sissies like guys are now.

          Daughters are much more simple - You tell 'em that if they get knocked up, the baby is being aborted or else they and their baby are both given up for adoption and/or kicked out on the street. No ifs, ands, or buts.

          The problem with your approach is that you're being too soft - You're setting yourself up to let kids get away wtih all that and walk all over you. That is a perfect example of today's impotent parenting, lacking discipline. You lay down the ground rules, and the second they fuck up, disable their access to the internet for a week, and smack 'em in the mouth with a rolled-up newspaper if they start givin' you any lip. You're the one in charge, so take charge. If they need the internet for anything like homework, then you install an ultra-repressive linux install with permissions for only Firefox and LibreOffice. Generate the kids' access keys for the router on a day-to-day basis to ensure compliance. If they start whining about Facebook and Farmville, kick them outdoors on their bikes for a few hours. Sheesh, what is wrong with parents nowadays?

          -- Ethanol-fueled

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:44PM (#42444481) Homepage

          What horrible parent allows their kid on Facebook?

          • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:28PM (#42446295)

            Good question.

            I keep mine safe in the walled garden of 4chan.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            What horrible parent doesn't realise that if they keep their kids off Facebook, they are probably on Facebook anyway.

            It's like the legalising drugs debate. If we ban they will circumvent to get their fix. We live in a world where every other teenager has a smartphone. Block Facebook on the computer, they whip out their smartphone. What they don't have a smartphone? "You're the worst father ever! I hate you! Stay away from me! blah blah blah" and off she runs to use Facebook on a school computer while the te

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @08:07PM (#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.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        People lost quite a bit of happiness. It's rather sad that there are individuals out there who value happiness of other people as "worth zero".

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      exactly like when they removed other os from the ps3.
    • by kiwimate (458274)

      I assume, then, that you have no interest or passion in your life that revolves around anything someone else may see as pointless or a time waster. Most hobbies or leisure activities are not that interesting to a vast majority of the public, and they wouldn't understand your frustration if something you enjoyed disappeared with little warning.

      World of Warcraft? I've never played it, so I don't care if it goes away. But other people surely would, and I don't begrudge them their enjoyment. Or any other MMORPG

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:49PM (#42443819) Homepage Journal

    Will you finally stop sending Zygna money for doing nothing?

    • While they provided the game for free, it did take some manpower to make. So buying addons is rewarding a company for making a game you enjoy and provides some value-added enjoyment. But the caveat is that while the buyer might believe they are 'paying into it' in order to get a benefit, there is no such obligation on the part of the company expressed by this purchase. So there is a value, but not a lasting value.
    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@Nos ... t-retrograde.com> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @09:22PM (#42446983)

      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 thegarbz (1787294)

        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.

        While I agree with your broader sentiment against DRM this statement irks me. I guess it's not worth spending money to see a movie in the cinema, watch a baseball game, go blowing or anything else that provides one time entertainment?

        I see nothing wrong with being part of that temporary world as long as you know it's temporary. Know the last time I played Quake3? Well neither do I, and while it was heaps of fun at the time I'd be no worse off if I weren't able to ever touch it again now.

        Providing you're not

  • "Invest" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beetjebrak (545819) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:50PM (#42443837) Homepage
    Investment implies some form of return.. Sinking time into pointless games in't an investment, it's a waste.

    --Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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....

    • Re:"Invest" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:31PM (#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.

    • Re:"Invest" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:35PM (#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 SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:56PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houghi (78078)

      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 Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:27PM (#42445837) Journal

      Oh, it can be an "investment" all right. Take my parents, for a start. No, seriously, take them ;)

      They used to take trips into France and whatnot every weekend, buy the most expensive cameras to photograph stuff, etc. It cost a bunch, lemme tell you. They used to be in the red as far as their credit card limit went every month end.

      Then I got them addicted to WoW. Fast forward some years of being on WoW every waking hour when the servers aren't off for maintenance. No really, they do most of the shopping on Wednesday mornings. And now they actually have money for a change :p

      Sounds to me like getting to keep one's money would technically qualify as a return :p

      Plus, with Blizzard skipping maintenance on some Wednesdays, I think they even lost a few kilos. Think of the health benefits, man. Surely that counts as a return :p

      Or take my getting them addicted. Sure, I had to sink some time into answering stuff like "HELP! I'M DROWNING!" followed by (I swear I'm not making it up) "WHAT CAMERA TO TURN UPWARDS? NO, I DON'T HAVE A CAMERA! I LOOKED IN ALL BAGS AND I DON'T HAVE A CAMERA!!!!" But after that? They've been out of my hair for years now. Plus now mom has more interesting stuff to talk about when she calls. Not that she calls as much, either. Those newbies aren't gonna just kill themselves in the warzones, you know?

      I don't know about you, but I'd say that's worth something. That's my return on investment right there :p

  • by MarioMax (907837) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:53PM (#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 girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:08PM (#42444067)

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

      In other news, you're a heartless bastard... And so is Zynga. True as it may be, teaching our children and teenagers (the main market for Zynga games), and to a lesser extent young adults, the harsh reality of capitalism by inflicting emotional pain is not socially acceptable. They don't know any better and have had precious little opportunity at this point to learn that. The "lesson to people" attitude is mean-spirited and absolves Zynga of its higher level of social responsibility because its primary audience are people who simply don't know any better. It's no different than scammers preying on the elderly to extract money from them; It's going after people who are vulnerable and defenseless.

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

      • by vlm (69642)

        teaching our children and teenagers (the main market for Zynga games), and to a lesser extent young adults, the harsh reality of capitalism by inflicting emotional pain is not socially acceptable

        So... what would be an improvement? I think this is better than having a unemployed family member live under a highway overpass, or parents get downsized lose medical coverage and die, kicked out of house in foreclosure, watching grannie eat alpo because she has no income anymore, or about 80 bazillion other ways to teach kids about the realities of capitalism... Killing off some kids virtual pet is fairly compassionate in comparison to any other teachable moment...

        • Killing off some kids virtual pet is fairly compassionate in comparison to any other teachable moment...

          This isn't education. This is a company that has made hundreds of millions of dollars by preying on children and teenagers selling them products and services that have little value and are grossly over-priced. Using greater evils in the world to justify a lesser evil is morally questionable. Let's say I crash into you in my car. You drive a very nice car, obviously a person of means. In my defense, I say I shouldn't have to pay as much in repairs, because it didn't hurt you as much as if I'd run into a poor

          • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:02PM (#42444647)

            Its education, in that it provides a small example for a kid to roll around in his head without as much pain as any bigger real world example I can think of. I ask again, whats your superior suggestion to teach "the harsh reality of capitalism" with superior defined as causes less pain to the kid?

            Your standard /. car analogy was not very good, although I respect the effort to uphold /. tradition (seriously). I'm guessing your point is you don't like bankruptcy laws, no-fault insurance, or the existence of uninsured motorist coverage because of payout disparity depending on wealth?

            The "toughen up a bit" is not to make me feel better (none of that stuff ever happened to me, although I suppose if it did I'd be tougher now) the point is to make the kid less brittle when something bad happens to them. The old argument of "make sure you have a pet, so the first death in the family the kid experiences is merely his goldfish, not grannie"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 yo

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:12PM (#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.

      • My spidey senses say that there will soon be an "OpenPets" github project, coupled with the obligatory web2.0 homepage. Essentially the nextgen version of virtual pets.

        (Only half kidding btw)

      • It's the fact that they can't continue to use the good independently of the vendor they bought it from.

        Web-based games like the kind Zynga produces use a lightweight client (Flash) because many of the platforms it develops for are resource-constrained. iPads, hand-me-down laptops from the parents, smartphones, etc. As a result, a lot of the processing has been moved to the server to enable that functionality. It's a rational design trade-off. Of course, when the server costs more to maintain than the income generated by keeping it on, it's time to shut it down. And yes, it is possible to port the application

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      It's something that MMO players have had to deal with for some time,

      When last I heard, Ultima Online and EverQuest are still going. Hell, if you really want to kick it old-school, MadMaze [mydomainwebhost.com] has outlived Prodigy itself.

      If anything, I suspect this speaks more to Zynga's business model of relying on microtransactions rather than such online-based games as a whole. I'm not certain of the causal relationship between a game's failure and going "free-to-play," but it's hard to deny a correlation.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:56PM (#42443935)
    If people learn not to play Zynga games from this, it will be for the best. Maybe someone not yet victimized by this can learn from others' stupid mistakes.
  • If they'd have recognized the many, many red flags all around the media and internet screaming that Zynga is evil, greedy, devious, copycatting bastards run by the king of all assholes and should be avoided at all costs, maybe the players wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:59PM (#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 zoward (188110)

      You are the way this model should work - you understand that what you're spending money on is entertainment, not any sort of future investment. If STO shut down tomorrow. the $20 you spent last month wasn't "lost" - it was spent on a month's worth of entertainment, As you mentioned, it can actually be a good entertainment value. When MMO's do shut down, it's a sad day for players who enjoyed the game, but a worse day for those who mistakenly thought of the money they spent on the game as "invested" in th

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:13PM (#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 dingen (958134)

      I don't even really see the cost reduction. How much money would it take to keep a table online of flags saying which player has which objects?

    • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:33PM (#42444355) Journal

      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?

      My guess? Yes. May this turn out to be a lesson for everyone involved:

      • — To consumers: Vendor lock-in always bites you in the ass. ALWAYS. Learn to identify forms of lock-in and avoid them wherever possible, or know up-front that what you're spending your money on today can be taken from you tomorrow and be okay with this prior to the transaction.
      • — To corporations: When you screw your customers, or make them feel like you're screwing them, you lose them. The trick to keeping customers and extracting more money from them over a longer term is to keep them happy; underpromise, overdeliver, and never take away what has already been delivered (with legal exceptions, of course). A secondary lesson to take from this is: If you've been in the industry for any length of time, nobody knows your industry as well as you or your competitors; an outsider can not help you and a competitor will not help you; consider all offers of assistance with this in mind.
      • — To "Enterprise Solutions" douc^H^H^H^Hfirms: If you have fewer years of experience in a given industry than the company you're trying to "help", insist on payment up-front; you'll likely be near the bottom of the list of people to pay after the liquidation.

      Also, why the fuck do unordered lists on /. not get bullets?

    • by gavron (1300111)

      > In what universe, exactly, did this plan make any sense?

      In this universe. They are a company. They provide goods and services. They determined
      that some of those were not profitable. They ceased providing them. This is what we call
      simple economic theory. If you prefer slogans think "buy low sell high" and "supply and demand."

      Let me know if the small words I used were confusing to you.

      best regards for a happy new year.

      Ehud

      • by s7uar7 (746699)
        That's a very simplistic way of looking at things. I suspect that Zynga looked at each game in isolation - the same as you're suggesting - and decided whether it was profitable or not. But how many people playing the games that they are going to close also play other, profitable Zynga games? There's a good chance they will lose them as customers entirely.
        • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @08:52PM (#42446821)

          I certainly do my best to avoid companies which have screwed me in the past. I gravitate towards companies who've sold me good products and dealt with me honestly.

          Examples:
          1) VENDOR1 in the mid-2000s started putting expiration dates on their ink cartridges. My printer would just stop working, without any informative error code. I bought a new cartridge and voila, it suddenly started working again. Net result? I've studiously avoided VENDOR1 printers, both personally and commercially.

          2) I've had excellent experiences with VENDOR2, with their various devices. As a result, if VENDOR2 shows up in a group, I'll gravitate towards their product.

          I used to be heavily into gaming but stopped. However, had my access been yanked or the game taken down and my character and equipment lost while I was playing, I would have had serious antipathy towards the organization that took it away. And would have studiously avoided the organization in the future.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:22PM (#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.

      • by lgw (121541)

        I think you and the post you replied to have different meanings to "makes sense". This move makes no sense as a long term decision for Zynga's profitability. They just alienated a significant potion of their customer base for trivial savings - never a good plan, given the cost of acquiring customers. This move makes perfect sense as a last-ditch survival move by Zynga, whose time horizon is "surivial for one more quarter". I don't thing long-term negative consequences are even on their radar right now.

  • Firms have lifetimes (Score:2, Informative)

    by fermion (181285)
    I am not sure who these people are that expects firms and products to last forever. I saw a good article recently about how innovation is thwarted because we have become used to continuity and standardization.We are so afraid of Dinsey retaliated on us because Mickey Mouse becomes public domain the we are willing to bork the entire IP system.

    I suppose that all the games use the same base code, so releasing is for some games will not be possible. I also assume that the games are not paying for the server

  • by Roblimo (357) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:35PM (#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? :)

  • There is a good reason to shut down these games:
    People are killing other people over them!

    See:
    http://blog.games.com/2011/08/31/farmville-player-steals-farm-cash-stabs/ [games.com]

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:38PM (#42444405)

    It's just gone to that great backup tape in the clouds. One day, if you're very very good, you'll go there too and you can play with your pet again.

    • by Kamineko (851857)

      You're saying that the love and dedication that little Jane Doe gave to her 100px by 100px animated GIF of a kitty cat produced as part of a soulless-cash-grab by a minimum wage artist working for a corporation granted it a 'soul'?

      Sure why not. That sounds pretty cute, and it'll drive anybody who takes the concept of soul too seriously bonkers.

    • by Zed0mega (674909) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:37PM (#42444929)
      What!? They told me Sparky was in a server farm upstate! /cry
  • I could see stopping enhancements, but actually taking the games down seems pointless. They can't cost that much to run. The operating costs are related to the number of users, who are presumably still viewing ads and buying in-game items. So there shouldn't be an operating loss.

    What seems to be happening is that casual entertainment is moving to mobile, and Zynga was late with that. Zynga's business model relies on being in the right column of Facebook pages, and that column doesn't appear on phones. Z

  • This is excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:56PM (#42444583)

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

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:03PM (#42445139)

    Kill my pet? Cause depression?

    I dread the day WoW gets shut down. Or maybe I should be looking forward to it, a few flats might get on the market again.

  • by Joe Branya (777172) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:03PM (#42445619)
    I'm almost 70 and never post here. Two-or-three years ago I knew a very warm-hearted young woman going through a very hard time in her life. She discovered Farmville and I started getting the Zynga message stream... a picture of a sad little animal and a message saying "An abandoned little baby llama has just been found and it needs to be adopted... so lost and lonely". I knew the incredible effort my friend put into fostering real animals, the insane hardships she had seen and how little money she had. And now some of that miniscule amount of money was going to Farmville. She was living in her car here in Austin scraping by with her two pet dogs and a coutimundi she was fostering (I kid you not). One afternoon we took one dog and the coutimundi out for a walk on leashes near the U. of Texas, where I live, and ever since I've been elevated by the frat boys to "The Coutimundi Dude"- a serious promotion. I didn't really know what Farmville was costing her, so after the"baby llama" emails I looked at Zynga and how it worked. What they were doing- carefully and systematically preying on the kind and the needy like some sort of hyper-evolved emotional shark while the tech press politely applauded- made me madder than anything I'd seen on the internet in years. Today I emailed the following to my now much happier and more settled young friend: "I saw thew following story and remembered the time in your life when Farmville was so important to you. I never said anything at the time, because I know how much you loved animals, even virtual ones, but I did look at the company that made Farmville, Zynga, and got incredibly upset at the tactics they were using to make money. The idea of charging for add-ons didn’t bother me at all, but the way they systematically targeting the needs of people who were both kind-hearted and vulnerable because of the way they loved without reservation and yet felt so alone really pissed me off. I’m so glad that today you are in a much better place. I just feel sorry for those who created and so generously loved those disappearing virtual pets." I'll make no comment on Zynga and its well-deserved fate. But the rest of us (including me) should remember with love and respect the sheer neediness of some of those we make for and sell to... or just meet on the street,and try to do a little better by them in 2013. Happy New Year.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:59PM (#42446111) Journal
      Being almost 70 is no excuse for a lack of paragraphs :)
    • I completely agree with you. I had a similar experience.

      My friend's mother was in her 60's and taking care of her dying 90-year-old father, she was stuck all day in the house. Farmvile brought her an immense sense of well being. She never spent any money on it, but similar to your friend it got her through some tough times: saving those little animals and growing virtual crops really brightened up her day, and she would check in frequently.

      I suspect a huge portion of /. won't grok this: the general lack

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