I disagree with this statement, those users existed before Yoville came around, and will continue existing after Yoville is gone, they will simply find something new to pour their time into.
I am one of the "die hard" Yoville players. At 54, I have never before, nor will I ever again, find a game that I enjoy like Yoville. Truth is, I will probably never even look again. If you haven't played this game, and experienced the social aspect of it, you may not understand what is involved in the relationships formed, friendships bonded. It's more than a bunch of avatars. We have gotten to know eachother on a personal level. I met a woman on Yoville that I found had all the same interests, etc. that I do in our real lives. Yoville was the vehicle that started a great real friendship. We talk daily on the phone now and keep up on eachother's childrens, families, jobs, etc. She's like my BFF that I should have had closer to home, but would never have met if not for Yoville. We have cheered together at births of grandkids, we've cried together over deaths in the families, we've given advice on everything from laundry to love to career paths... She lives 3000 miles away and yet, we can talk about anything and everything like we've known eachother our entire lives.
This community is so tightly knit that when someone in yoville has news to share, we all share it. Several of the members have met in real life and even married because of this game. Inside the game, we celebrated one such wedding by hosting a "yo-wedding" complete with gifts given to the happy couple and all.
The point some of the others are trying to make here is that the game itself wasn't what you enjoyed, it was the people. The game itself isn't anything more amazing or less amazing than other games (where other communities have had similar experiences of close-knit friendships, weddings, deaths, and so on). What you've experienced has actually been going on inside and outside games on the internet since the 1980s! I really do understand - this has occurred before in a dozen different forms (it's an interest of mine to occasionally study them). It's not the technology, it's the people. Your loss is real, but not impossible to overcome.
For a non-internet analogy, it's like a specific bar that has existed for 50 years. Everyone in the bar knows each other. They've shared each others' pains and joys. They don't come for the beer (just as you don't come for the gameplay) so much as for the fellowship of their friends who have become more then friends. They are used to the bar: the smoothness of the wood counter, the background chatter of friends, the salty slightly mildewy smell of the atmosphere, the soft click of the pool table that is slightly off-balance in one foot, the friendly faces and warm recognizable voices that they've come to know and love.
But now the bar is going to be destroyed to make way for a strip mall. Devastation. It is a real disaster, a real loss, to the people that have come to call it home. Multiple generations have know that bar - fathers and sons and grandsons. It's a real loss. But the people of the bar aren't going to disappear.
The people have choices:
1) They can find a different gathering place. Others will already be there, but they can merge the old group into the new. It'd be arkward and weird and uncomfortable at first, but over time the two groups will become one, and it'll feel like home again. Not the same home - a different home, but still a home that they'll not just adapt to, but be comfortable and warm in.
2) They can set up a new gathering place. The bar itself is a loss, but the loss of the people is the real issue. By getting the people together, and keeping them together, they can collectively relocate to a new place, "remaking" the bar in a new location. It could be someone's family room as a informal once-a-week gathering, or it could be a full business being opened and managed by the community.
Step one: Setup a (free) community internet forum, not controlled by Zynga, and start getting the community to meet there to discuss and plan what to do.
3) They can try to buy the bar. It'll cost alot of money, and it'll require alot of work (and more money) to run and maintain. But it's been done before.
4) They can do nothing, and accomplish nothing.
5) They can protest, and (probably) accomplish nothing. Protesting has, in very rare circumstances, resulted in a real desirable outcome. But in most cases, life moves on and the protestors don't get what they want. It's not the surest way to victory.
I hate to sound stupid here, but how would we do that? This may be a solution, but I'm clueless as to the "how to" aspect of it.
f there isn't any money left to be had, but the community still wants it, the community should buy it, open source it, and self-host. (Blender, Meridian 59, and dozens of old MUDs and ORPGs).
If 'protesting' is the lowest chance of success, 'buying it' is probably the hardest to accomplish. Who'd own it? Where would the money come from? Who'd manage/moderate it? Who'd maintain it and keep it running? These are the kinds of obstacles that'd need to be overcome.
Also, Zynga would have to be open to selling it - a corporation that cares nothing about its bottom line dollar isn't likely to sell one of its cash cows to establish a competitor without a serious amount of cash changing hands - after all, this is a company that shuts down profitable games just because they are only "million dollar" profitable and not "hundred-million-dollar" profitable. They'd have to be convinced that they are getting a better deal than their existing deal (tens of thousands of users paying them money every month) that they already aren't impressed by.
But it's been done before - ask the heads of the Blender Foundation
for advice; they are an artist community that raised money and bought out a 3D modelling software and then have successfully managed it as a non-for-profit organization for years and have made it one of the best 3D modelling softwares available - not just buying what it used to be, but continued to improve and expand it.
Also reach out to the Free Software Foundation
, and see if they can give you advice. They are a group of lawyers and programmers who support and aid communities and organizations who release and maintain software that is freely available and freely modifiable.
Once purchased, you'd need some seriously serious
technical expertise. Not just some clever teenagers who know computers, but some really dedicated, focused, and educated computer experts in the field of server administration, network programming, and web-programming. YoVille specifically, because of certain technical details of it's nature, while be especially hard. It's (most likely) integrated into and dependant on Zynga's server farm hardware and distribution software layers - you'll need skilled (really skilled) people who can comprehend what Zynga's custom proprietary code was doing (it'd be like reading egyptian hieroglyphics - having to decipher things bit by bit) and then rewrite most of it to move it to a different server farm (I'd suggest Amazon.com's, as theirs is the best and the cheapest - but Amazon won't help at all - they expect you to be technical - it's not their job to write or maintain other people's code for them).
Honestly... it's about the people, not the game. Why waste money (lots of money), time (lots of time), and labor (lots of labor) to save the game, if your actual goal is keeping the community together? Setup an internet forum to gather in, toss down $10 a year for a domain name, and $20 a month for some web hosting, and do the (hard, but far easier than the alternatives) work of moving the community over to that forum. Yes, you'll lose a portion of the community during the migration - but that's really unavoidable whatever path you choose. Taking it from there, if you want a virtual environment to inhabit, than together as a community pick one of the five thousand that already exist, finding whichever fits your community best, and stake a claim to it.
If that doesn't work, invest the time, money, and labor to make a virtual world custom-made for your community. It's a huge undertaking, and very very costly, but even that
would be easier than trying to save a bar when there are plans for a twenty-million-dollar stripmall to be built there. Why save the bar? Relocating the community is hard, but not as