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Zynga's Vampire Wars: The Curious Case of the Vampire Cow

When Zynga gave a flat-out gift to VW players -- a cow that costs nothing, gives you game currency (blood -- resist the imagery...), and will give this to you free every 12 hours on the clock -- many players refused the gift. Why?

What do you do when you give a gift to your user base, and they rebel?

I have an inside informant -- my fiance spends way too much time on this game, and he's working on being a power gamer.  You know, the spreadsheets, the whole metagame, the grognard arguments about lore and related media.  Zynga games have those, too.  They're funny, but they're there.  It's a fascinating lab for game scaling.  You can know zip and play these games, but the "endgame" is actually reasonably involved.

Zynga hit a mixed note with their recent chapter in Facebook-based Vampire Wars.   Chapters are a bit like a cross between expansions and seasonal festivals in MMOs.  There are new items to craft, new minigames, new missions and various bits.  And in this chapter of Vampire Wars, Zynga got transgressive, and introduced the Vampire Cow.

Now, people who play Vampire Wars are playing Vampire Wars mostly because they wouldn't be caught dead playing Farmville.  And they really don't want to be reminded that they are in the same pool with Farmville players -- Farmville players have cooties.

When Zynga gave a flat-out gift to VW players -- a cow that costs nothing, gives you game currency (blood -- resist the imagery...), and will allow you to claim a new cow free every 12 hours on the clock -- many players refused the gift.

Why?

Because in Zynga's own odd sense of humor, the cow comes with the color text: "[a player who is your friend]  has has found a lonely Vampire Cow. [name] is trying to find someone who
will give it a new home."

This is exactly the "lonely cow" text from Farmville, with "Vampire" inserted.  People in the game are going nuts, threatening to rage-quit, telling friends to PLEASE not send them cows or they'll be unfriended, and so on.

One of the hilarious aspects of this, is that the first folks who started complaining (at least) had to have played Farmville at some point, or they'd never have gotten the joke.

This is like giving someone a golden goose -- a free generator of game currency that generates a small amount every hour forever.  And people are turning it down.

One milder reaction:  "I don't want to clean up cow poop!"

And they say they aren't roleplayers...!  *heh*

Shava Nerad is CEO of Oddfellow Studios, Inc. which is developing a virtual world which, among other things, hopes to be a social nexus for MMO gamers. 

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