I have been meaning to write something about this for awhile. Farmville, and games like it really piss me off. His Lumness, put up an article about how the traditional MMO Developers and the Facebook Application industry peeps are at war.
I've noticed that many of the pioneer type MMO people have moved into the realm of making games for Facebook. Recently I recall Raph Koster, Anthony Castoro, and even Richard Garriott going down this path.
I'll tell you that I don't like some of those kind of games because they use some cheezy tactics to get you to play. I also don't like running out of moves or stuff to do for the day, or the next few hours or whatever. I like to just do what I want, when I want, period.
I have a friend that is one of those 20 million people that likes Farmville. Now, we do live in the country and all that, but besides not wanting to play a game about farming, I don't like games that force you to bug other people. I asked her why she played the game so much, and her response was that she would lose all of her hard work on her crops if she didn't harvest in 3 hours or something silly. I was completely beside myself with disgust! How could they do that to someone's stuff? Well, I am not going to play that game to find out, but I think that sort of tactic sucks. She didn't mention anything else about the game, like "because it's fun" or something, she was just afraid to lose all of her hard work. Clicking on 300 or more squares to plant veggies... What a waste!
I don't want to send out 100 direct email spam messages to people about my game, and try to get them to play. I don't want to play a game that makes you log in every few hours to make sure your virtual goods are still safe and not losing money. I am not saying all of those games do that, but many of them like Farmville do, and it thrives on people being scared of losing virtual stuff.
One could argue that WoW does the same thing with "Cool Downs". You have a cool down that you can use every day or three, but if you don't use it, then you could miss out on some money. Well, you could, but when you get back, you can still get that money, and nothing is really lost. You don't lose your crops, have to rebuild the empire, or lose your dog.
It is similar to the way some casinos in Colorado try to get people to come play by offering to match the amount you must spend, but only if you come play every week. If you miss a week, then you "lose" that money they are "giving" you. It's a trick works on a lot of people, but to me it seems that these types of tricks are not a good way to do business.
Most of the traditional MMO's allow you to just come and play whenever you want, everything is still the way you left it when you return, and typically, you don't need to feel like you've lost everything.
I think Lum's point in his article that Farmville and games like it are simply the next step in an evolution of games. The trick is for you Traditional MMO folks is that you need to make your games accessable in the same fashion as the Facebook guys.
World of Warcraft is already starting to do this with Facebook and they have a new Auctioneer app of some sort coming out. I think we will see more of an integration of the two rather then a replacement from one to the other. You can still have people buy your game and play as they see fit, and you can offer a lot of the content through things like Facebook and MySpace that will cover a huge number of the problems and concerns we see now.
I am looking forward to seeing how this topic unfolds, because I truly believe the most successful MMO will be the one that puts this marriage of Application, and Traditional together...
Oh, and make it accessable to Twitter, Bling, Yahoo Mail, and on the cell phone too. Mkay?
That's all I got.