In the first year of me playing Mafiawars, i welcomed many changes from Zynga inwhich them, themselves profited from, by the end of the year we had many great new features with not only the succuessfull new location of Cuba, but we also had Moscow aswell, with many game fixes and adition add ons ingame IE Lotto, which at the time when vaulting it, you actually noticed the increase in droprate. This was 2009-2010 period, skipping forward a year to last last year, 2010 - 2011 segmanent merge, what did we see? a rush of events etc etc which led to event fatigue, and the usual stuff about "lets boycott Zinga" (again etc etc). They had also implemented NERFS, vaulting lotto no longer increased droprates, infact they had nerfed droprates from 40% to under 4% and had killed most things people loved about the game.
Now lets fast forward it another year, another rush of events which led again to event fatigue, BUT!!?!! instead of lets the "lets boycott Zinga" it was a theme that had started to take great shape and form, infact it had gathered a great speed and was making the ever growing app data statistics chart of/on Facebook apps continue its awesome slippery slope to its ever so quickly growing target of less than X amount of players continueing to onplay the game. This here is the problem of a gaming company that seemingly only knows one thing, Success from a new player base and that is all. The onslaught across the board of the decline of all Zyngas "latest and greatest, bright new ideas" or as most would now recongise complete and blatant rip offs of other peoples games.
The latest and greatest of games in the yet-to-be-released Zynga games is the up and coming "Dream Heights" whos original creators infact decided to publically call out ALL of Zyngas employees that they had ripped off their game. The creators of Tiny Towers (NimbleBit) last year won IOS Game of the year, but before we all light the pitch forks and lynch mob Zynga, they (Zynga) annouced that they are trying there hand at open sourcing HTML5 projects for IOS projects (Zynga unleashed) they also had infact tried UNSUCCESSFULLY to aquire NimbleBit for an undisclosed sum. But IMO its still wrong to blatantly rip them off, Proof? well NimbleBit's Ian Marsh took to twitter and let Zynga have it in a open challenge by means of a comparasion pic of which Zynga flooded their twitter with various game links in a seeming effort to drop that from any feed. We dont have too look far when comparing other Zynga games and what they have been copied off the examples are out there on the net with an ever growing number of people from around the world blogging the examples.
(Click on pic to enlargen)
Zynga has been known to payout other game companys when they have stolen their ideas, sums of upto $USD 10million (Google-able). However as mentioned, Zynga do not have a long levity in maintaining their player base, the game of choice i play by them is Mafiawars, i played when it had a corner caption boasting 4million daily players, then that was changed to 6million and growing, now a few years later... its unique hits hovers around 200,000 players with a loss of 20k of players a week/month it has done a complete U turn. How could a game go from 6million daily players to 200k~ daily players? there can not be one singular reason, as there are many, was it the player end? or was it the company that grew to an awe aspiring profit margin that was too successfull, far too quickly and with no previous knowledge of how to handle themselves and contracted employees that had tax scheme contracts so Zynga wouldnt lose money by keeping them on as full time staff and had them listed as external contractors, so you always had new staff with no previous knowledge of the game.
As profits and players drop from the once successfull company, we will never get a answer, infact i would wager a guess at Zynga been used as an example in up and coming IT/WEB development seminars with the topic of what not to do, with it been picked to pieces and examples of lack of interaction with its playerbase most likely been its main topic. From my own and personal background i have learnt that even if i like and think what i am putting out is great and awesome, it doesnt mean the playerbase will like it and i learnt to adapt my output to their feedback to benifit everyone, Other succuessful gaming companys will completely agree with this, After all its the playerbase that makes the game and lets longlevity take a grasp and therefore judges future profit margins.
I know players that spent $USD 5k a month "to be the best" or "have every item" some have spent massive amounts over $USD 100k now alot of these account lay wasted having not been used in quite awhile by disgrunted customers, Some of these customers have sold accounts, others have swapped account. All to try and get back money they once spent on a thriving game. The one winner out of all of this was Zynga and i suppose in the end, its bravo to them for enticing users to spend money only for them (Zynga) to turn around and cull its once profitable source, which ranges across all of their games, not just Mafiawars.
I'm now on the sidelines watching a game company take a headfirst dive, one that hasn't only learnt from its past mistakes but continues to head in a repeat fashion of what most players have come to recongise, entice players to a new game, get their money, fumble on nonexsistant longlevity ideas and repeat the progress over again.