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I have to ask a broad, existential “why?” question here because, frankly, I’ve been asking myself why I have been playing this game other than sheer inertia.
Fairly recently, I posted on another subforum about the grind of actual leaderboard events and leaderboard-event-like areas (notably, the County Fair and the Boat Races).
Hilariously (if you like ironic black humor), since I posted that list of concerns and suggestions, not only were both my farm and others in my co-op forced into restarting the County Fair (with the new “Care” downgrade), but also another cookie-cutter-clone leaderboard event has started.
Meanwhile, the Boat Races area is yet another competition where key-hacks can render participation meaningless (and, like the County Fair, also have the “demotion” mechanic to make sure that you Keep On Racing even if you have no particular interest in trying for rewards this week), but atop that, the Boat Races is engineered to force anyone foolish enough to participate to take part in pretty much every part of Farmville in order to contribute. If you can’t stand feeding Show Pigs or running on the County Fair treadmill or taking part in the latest leaderboard event because Boat Races is asking you to complete quests... well.. too bad.
Additionally, if the forums are any guide, Zynga has slowly, spottily been introducing anti-“cloning” measures for months. Now, I know “cloning” has been contentious on these boards, but it would seem that if it is a practice to be eliminated, it should be eliminated, oh, across the board, rather than piecemeal (allowing some co-ops to practice it while others are not) — and furthermore, the often-ridiculous sale and event requirements then lowered.
For instance, consider the previous (Scarecrow Wedding) event: in the final phase, participants needed to obtain 16 scarecrow-items, each of which required creating about 3 carts, each of which required 4 cart wheels. 192 cart wheels is... a ridiculous harvest to have to pull in, never mind all the tin (~96!) that was required.
Marie’s order board is often the same problem in miniature. When all the orders look something like “23 gelato, 18 smoked salmon, 16 stuffed cat dolls, 38 yarn dolls,” etc., one is inclined to believe that “cloning” was an intended feature. (“Just hit X and get new orders” doesn’t really cut it when virtually all orders look like that, and if a very few don’t — how many times can a player reasonably hit X every day, without treating Farmville like a full-time job?)
The tagline of FV2:CE is even “farm at your own pace.” Well, it would seem that’s not the case — if a given farm wants to complete an event, or even an Order Board order (much less reach a personal goal of doing so), then it’s pretty much a full-time job even with co-op membership.
Which brings me back to my question:
Or more specifically:
Why does Zynga want players to have to spend especially large amounts of time in FV2:CE in order to finish anything?
It would be one thing if the longer players stayed in the game, the more advertising they could view. That would be ad revenue. I suppose a theory might be that players staying longer in the game are more likely to buy keys? —But the kind of player who is willing to grind out hours and hours of farming every day seems unlikely to legal-cheat by simply purchasing keys.
(And let’s be straight: if “cloning” is a form of cheating, so is “pay to play.” Especially because it only further incentivizes keyhacking, which is a far more egregious way of breaking the game.)
Frankly, I’m not sure what the upside is for Zynga making the game a “log in every day, 4 times a day, 4-6 hours a day” grind. It turns a game which can be fun for short periods every day and/or occasional long periods, even if for nominal and almost entirely temporary in-game rewards (see, again, my prior post linked above) into... frankly... a job. Only without the “you get paid” part, or any sense of real accomplishment.
Which is the other problem: increasingly, about the only way of earning any permanent reward or addition to a farm is through leaderboard events, which are the most demanding and egregiously random events (in terms of group placement and in terms of whether the farmhand you might win if you actually place 5th this time actually has a desirable special ability or not). When all the events feel exactly the same and a matter of “here comes the new temporary farmhand, same as the old one,” then the game has long since been stale even without the ever-increasing requirements to simply run in place.
Actual permanent rewards come basically only very incrementally: by the build up of keys, 1, 2, or at best 10 at a time, which only really helps upgrade farms up to a certain size - and by the build up of timber, similarly (but also see above re: Marie’s Order Board).
If Zynga wants to eliminate “cloning,” then do so uniformly and reform the requirements so that players can actually earn their way toward a chosen goal without treating the game like a full-time job. Maybe include an attainable permanent reward at least occasionally. Stop trying to get everyone to play every aspect of the game all the time, and to play the game like it’s a job.
As for me, it may be long past due time for a break from Farmville; possibly the kind of break I simply don’t come back from. Because honestly I’m not sure why I’ve even kept coming any more, and I’m not sure if Zynga even has a “why?” any more.