Only a year ago casual games publisher Zynga seemed poised to overtake the entirety of gaming. Its massively successful line of games, though arguably created purely to drive profitability and hook players with purposefully addictive gameplay mechanisms, had become a huge hit among lesser-served portions of the gaming audience, and the company was absorbing and regurgitating game concepts as fast as its employees could move.
Unfortunately, the past few months have seen Zynga on the verge of collapse. In November, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus outlined a plan to close down a number of the company’s older, less valuable games in an effort to shift the extant resources currently keeping those titles afloat to its other, more profitable games. This plan has been slowly unfolding over the course of the past month, and as TechCrunch points out the company has settled on 11 of its casual titles, all of which have either been shut down completely, removed from the app store or made unavailable to new players.
Have a look at the full list:
PetVille – Shut down December 30th
Mafia Wars 2 – Shut down December 30th
FishVille – Shut down December 5th
Vampire Wars – Shut down December 5th
Treasure Isle – Shut down December 5th
Indiana Jones Adventure World – Closed to new players, shuts down January 14th
Mafia Wars Shakedown – Pulled from app stores
Forestville – Pulled from app stores
Montopia – Shut down December 21st
Mojitomo – Pulled from app stores
Word Scramble Challenge – Pulled from app stores
As one would expect, given Zynga’s efforts to utterly enthrall players with their games, fans of these games — particularly those that have been playing for an extended period of time — are upset. “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?” reads one comment found on the PetVille shutdown notice.
As you might notice from the end of that Facebook post, Zynga is hoping to assuage player anger by offering “a one-time, complimentary bonus package in one of either Castleville, or Chefville, or Farmville 2, or Mafia Wars or Yoville.” Casual gamers do enjoy other casual games, so we can see this gift working for some distraught Zynga fans, but it certainly won’t make up for the dozens (or hundreds) of hours other players have spent (and, now, seemingly wasted) on the casual titles Zynga has just shut down. This move may allow Zynga to reallocate resources and streamline its business model to maximize profitability — money is the ultimate goal here, after all — but it remains to be seen if it can recoup the good will lost by abandoning some of its most devoted players in this fashion.