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That’s 8 point 6 million with an “m”

25 October 2009 1 comment

Cafe WorldHoly crap! That’s my response after I read a post on Raph Koster’s site (I’m playing feed catch-up) which quote from/linked to this article regarding Zynga’s Cafe World:

[Cafe World] has grown from 0 to 8.6 million users since it launched a week ago, according to AppData, based on a combination of cross-promotion from other Zynga games (including FarmVille) and advertising on Facebook.

The article goes on to say that Cafe World is not a clone of Playfish’s Restaurant City, but it is. It just takes all the bad things out, such as having to refresh your workers every hour, and not making you go through hoops to collect ingredients for recipes.

Speaking of RC‘s design, that whole ingredient collection thing is absolutely evil. You can’t really progress in the game per se, although you do get more space and the opportunity to hire more of your friends to work for you. The real thing that keeps you playing is the desire to collect more ingredients so that you can learn more recipes and raise their levels. But ingredients are devilishly hard to get: you either pay an arm and a leg for them on the market, spend $2000 and 2 days minimum (assuming you keep the plants watered) growing them in your garden (and you don’t get things like milk or ice, etc.), or wait for your chance daily to earn an ingredient by correctly answering the question in the daily quiz, as well as earning one ingredient daily. The way those clever bastards at Playfish have done it is that you want desperately to get ingredients as much as you want to make a really phat-looking restaurant. These two design elements combined make players more likely to spend money on microtransactions than they would in some other games, especially because in-game money is pretty much fixed if your restaurant is running 24/7 at the top of its game.

Zynga’s CW, on the other hand, has no current reward features, is somewhat illogical in its “buzz rating” system, and doesn’t have that level of pinache that RC does… yet. But, it’s Zynga, and they make better copies than everyone else, so I’m sure there will be a lot of great things down the line with the game that will make Electronic Arts ponder if it should have considered starting rumors about purchasing Zynga rather than Playfish instead.

This bit of the above article is also interesting:

To get a sense for what Café World means for Restaurant City, take a look at what happened to Slashkey’s Farm Town before and after Zynga launched FarmVille in June. As FarmVille grew, Farm Town’s traffic leveled off, even though it is staying steady with nearly 19 million monthly active users. The same may be happening for Restaurant City, as its traffic has also leveled off in the last week.

Players tend to forget about the original, and move to the next best clone out there. This is one of the reasons why the SRPG market lacks some serious innovation at this time. The good thing is that (hopefully) as the market continues to skyrocket, there will be developers out there who will explode SRPG game design, making it much more exciting for gamers, and more World of Warcraft-like profitable for the developers themselves.

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