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Zynga Pulls Plug on YoVille - Million$ in YoCash evaporate!

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#161 frob   Moderators   


Posted 23 January 2014 - 01:10 AM

This happens every time a paid game community gets shut down. I first remember petitions and lawsuits back in the early 1980s when Prodigy and AOL and other services discontinued specific online games and services, and even then there were many people rationally explaining that this is the normal cycle of things.

It will continue to happen every time a game community gets shut down.

No amount of petitions to the government or lawsuits will stop this from happening.

Petitions and posturing might be able to extend the life a little bit, but the ultimate outcome is known from the beginning and is unavoidable. Someday **ALL** of your beloved games that you play online will go away. It may not be today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or next decade, but it **WILL** happen.

Even today's behemoths like World of Warcraft will eventually follow the life cycle. People will be angry. People will demand action. People will probably attempt individual and class action lawsuits. And it will all be for naught.

This is the normal, well known, expected cycle. There is no help needed for the game. You might be able to postpone the inevitable for a short time, but you cannot alter the ultimate result.

If you need support on the matter, I'm sure you can find a psychologist to help; some people do need help working through the stages of grieving when their favorite pastimes are discontinued.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#162 Quebec1   Members   


Posted 23 January 2014 - 01:32 AM

LMAO- Maybe thousands of us need an phychologist, who feel cheated. Maybe we won't win to keep the game but maybe we will, certainly Big Vikings seems to care enough to save this game.


I disagree it is a waste of time, at least people will think twice before choosing Zynga as their favorite gaming site, and this is at least an acheivement in it's own, because every dollar lost to them makes it worthwhile.


Grieving is a stage, and yes doing something to make life better for others is therapy enough, ty, therefore If you want to be Dr Phil and give me advice, I suggest you try a different hobby.

#163 samoth   Members   


Posted 23 January 2014 - 07:48 AM

Lawsuits, petitions, etc.

Someday **ALL** of your beloved games that you play online will go away. It may not be today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or next decade, but it **WILL** happen.


LMAO- Maybe thousands of us need an phychologist, who feel cheated.

I think the only real thing you might (and that "might" will likely not hold either because Zynga's lawyers were probably smart enough to foresee this situation) have a grip on is the virtual currency you paid real money for.


Games, like other services, just do go out of business, and you have no right whatsoever that service be uninterrupted or perpetually continued, and you cannot expect a compensation if that isn't the case, nor can you force the company to continue the game. Lawsuits on that base are frivolous at best, ridiculous otherwise (meaning the judge will either shout or laugh at you).

Indeed, in the ToS of every provider, not just games, you agree to the exact opposite of continued, perpetual service. The notable exception being providers where you pay big-$ for 99% availability (which is 4 days downtime per year!) or where you pay big-$$$ for 99.99% availability for the term of your contract. This is not the kind of contract you have, however.


Zynga might continue for a short while to mitigate the negative impact on their stock quotes, but they'll let it phase out anyway, either way, no matter what you do or say. They might make the game so unenjoyable that you're not going to play it, either (just so it is formally running).


As for your virtual avatars (and their items), you do not own these either, nor have you "rented" them, you merely own the right to play the game using these avatars while the game is running. But even this right can be taken away, for example if your avatars is banned from the game. This is the same in every kind of online service and something that is universally agreed, everywhere. You could say that it is self-evident even if the ToS didn't explicitly say so.


Now on the other hand, the Yo-dollars or what their currency is called, is a different thing, at least ethically and conceptually.


Currencies are promises, and are only about promises. When your employer gives you a paycheck with $5,000 on it, this is a promise that employer's bank will transfer $5,000 to your account in exchange for this worthless piece of paper. Your bank promises that they will, upon demand, give you cash for the virtual (and completely worthless) balance in your account. They promise that they actually have enough money to pay everybody too (*cough*).

You can get cash from your bank, which is also no more than a promise given by your government that these few sheets of paper are worth $5,000 which you can exchange for goods and other currency, and which the federal bank will pay you in gold upon request.

This promise used to be backed by real gold until about the beginning of the last century, but nowadays it's just a promise, and the "gold" is mostly virtual. There's not enough gold to pay everyone. Everyone knows that, but it's not a problem as long as everybody believes in the promise, and as long as neither the bank nor the government shuts down (*cough*). This is the base of every modern economy, and it is universally well-understood.


When you buy a virtual currency, you buy the promise that this currency will be exchangeable for something (either goods or other currency). The fact that it is virtual does not matter, because all currencies (unless you buy Krugerrand or Gold Eagles) are virtual. And even these are often virtual (since having gold at home is a risk), you usually only buy a certificate for which your bank promises stocking the amount you bought.


Now, if Zynga discontinues Yo-ville, the currency is no longer exchangeable for goods, since said goods no longer exist. How do you buy a fancy hat for your in-game avatar if neither the game nor the avatar (or the hat) is supported any longer?


Consequently, the virtual currency must be exchangeable for other currency (i.e. refunded).


However, I'm afraid that there is probably a clause in the small print when you buy them (you'd have to look) which says something like: "No refunds, ever. You are aware and agree that Yo-dollars are completely worthless, and you cannot trade them back or exchange them for anything".


This is more than likely the case (otherwise Zynga needs to fire their lawyers). So even if you ethically have a claim on a "real" good, you may not have it in practice.


And of course, Zynga can easily sell all of the game's rights (and obligations) to its affiliate Zynblah LCC. and shut down Zynblah LCC a month later. You can try and go to court, but you'll not get a lot of money from a defunct company. In the USA, a LCC does not mandate a particular minimum nominal capital, so this is a cheap procedure... it'll basically cost them around $75 for the filing fee. As a bonus, they may get rid of unwanted personnel the cheap way too, by transferring them to the affiliate. No beating a dead horse, no unemployment compensations.

Edited by samoth, 23 January 2014 - 07:51 AM.

#164 Amadeus H   Members   


Posted 27 January 2014 - 05:24 AM

I have proof of chats how they deceived us, and our loyal customer money spent on Zynga down the drain.


I'm sorry, but the community managers/support you likely chatted with knows as much of the corporate insights of Zynga as the teenager flipping burgers at McDonalds know about their global strategy. Like it has been said before, the community managers for your game was likely as unaware as you were about being shut down.


Authors stops publishing sequels, TV channels go to their eternal slumber and movie corporations cease to exist. Just like games naturally stop existing. I think this whole thread just ooze of an unhealthy addiction, and the only reasonable solution is to move on.

#165 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   


Posted 28 January 2014 - 10:46 AM

YoVille Gets Mainstream News Visibility: 

from Forbes:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/01/28/why-big-viking-wants-to-save-yoville-from-zyngas-axe/


Why Big Viking Wants To Save 'YoVille' From Zynga's Axe

I get a lot of social media messages from people who are all attempting to sell me on one video game-related cause or another. It might be a new game they’re working on, a freshly debuted Kickstarter, their Dragon Age fan fiction, I see all kinds. But over the past few weeks and months I’ve gotten a lot of people messaging me in an attempt to recognize a campaign to save one of their favorite games, YoVille.

As you may have guessed from the name, YoVille is a Zynga title, or at least it was until they announced that dropping users warranted closing it down for good. Zynga bought YoVille from Tall Tree Games (now Big Viking Games) back in 2008, making it one of their most prominent early purchases. It’s often know as the first successful “Ville” Zynga game, even if it’s overshadowed by FarmVille.


It’s essentially a life simulator, where players can buy virtual items and meet virtual neighbors. It became hugely popular around the Zynga acquisition, and topped out at 19M monthly active users. But recently, the game fell to a mere few hundred thousand, and Zynga put it on the chopping block.

An enormous fan outcry began as the remaining players were the most dedicated the game had, and they didn’t want to lose everything they’d invested in their virtual lives. They threatened Zynga boycotts and made heartfelt YouTube videospleading their case. Their response got the attention of the original creators of the game, Big Viking, and now there’s a new push to buy back the title from Zynga, rather than having it be killed outright. It’s usually Zynga buying games from others, not the other way around, so it’s a curious case.

I was interested in what Big Viking thought they could do with YoVille by reacquiring it, so I spoke with the co-founders of the company, Albert Lai and Greg Thompson. Lai is CEO of Big Viking while Thompson is YoVille’s original creator. Here’s what each had to say about the potential acquisition.

Forbes: Are there any details you can share about the potential deal with Zynga, or have those negotiations not started yet?

Albert: We initiated contact on the day that Zynga announced that it was shutting down.  I reached out to Mark Pincus to see if they were open to the possibility of us buying back YoVille.  We have had multiple interactions to date to understand our options.

What inspired you to try and buy YoVille back for yourselves once Zynga said they were shutting it down? What do you think Big Viking to do aid the growth of a game Zynga thought to be in decline?

Albert: On day one of the shutdown, there was a massive outpouring of support from the YoVille community asking if we could buy back the game.  We got bombarded over the first 24 hours of the announcement from thousands of YoVille fans.

We’re encouraged by our early responses from the Zynga team, as it would seem that their leadership team have shown an appreciation of what this game means for its fans and the outpouring of support from the community.  They seem to understand how this could potentially be a three way win for Zynga, Big Viking Games, and YoVille fans. For a large company, Mark Pincus and the management team responded surprisingly quickly and positively to our request, and I think that their leadership team appears to appreciate what the YoVille fans are hoping for and how something could potentially be setup to allow for a positive outcome for all parties.  We are of course still in the early stages of our dialog, but we are as my co-founder Greg likes to put it: “cautiously optimistic” about a positive outcome.

Greg: We didn’t set out to acquire YoVille back from Zynga when we heard that YoVille was being shut down. It was through the massive reaction and support from the community to take YoVille over that lead to the decision that it’s something we were willing to do.

Our initial focus for YoVille will not be to grow it back to where it once was.  The primary focus will be on re-enabling features that have been disabled over time, and get the game to a stable state where the community is happy.  After we accomplish that, we will look to invest in areas that we believe will not only stop the decline, but actually start to grow the game again.


What do you make of the level of dedication of some YoVille fans? Why do you think they seem to care about the game so deeply?


Albert: The interesting thing about to be about YoVille is that its not your typical social game, and is more like a user co-created virtual world.  The users have invested years and years into building their virtual world and communities, and have formed strong social relationships with each other that I think transcend a typical MMO due to the context of the game (or ironically, the relatively lack of game-like mechanics inside YoVille and its more pure virtual world bent).

The game has touched and connected people in very deep and profound ways.  People have found life partners through YoVille, elderly grandparents log into Yoville to communicate with their children and grandchildren, disabled and homebound folks took to YoVille as an important daily outlet.  YoVille enabled them to do things they would otherwise never be able to do in real life.  Things like the ability to walk around and travel to an amazing number of virtual replicas of real world locations with real world and online friends.  For many, YoVille represents an amazing creative and social outlet that is deeply important to them, every day since the game shutdown announcement we have received countless stories of how its transformed their lives for the better.

Greg: This level of dedication and caring is not unique to YoVille alone, but it is the first major case where such a large community of players that have been involved in a virtual world for more than 5 years are suddenly losing everything they have invested time and money into. Many dedicated YoVille players have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars in a game that they thought would be around until they were ready to move on. Having this investment taken away with nothing to show would be distressing to many people.

In addition to the time and money invested in the game, there have been many friendships built, relationships formed, and even marriages that started though YoVille. It’s more than a game for most players, it’s truly a part of their life.


Would you be able to retain the “YoVille” name if the deal is done, or would you have to rebrand it as it’s no longer a Zynga “Ville” title technically?

Greg: We are not in a position to make any comment on that right now.


Can you say anything about what you would change with YoVille if you did acquire it? What about what you’d leave the same? Do you think that Zynga made changes to the game that hurt its chances to thrive, perhaps changes you’d undo?


Read More at Forbes: from Forbes:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/01/28/why-big-viking-wants-to-save-yoville-from-zyngas-axe/


Edited by Dream Cutter, 28 January 2014 - 10:48 AM.

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#166 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   


Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:35 AM

This "Save Yoville" video in interesting in that it shows the distinct parallels of real-life identities with their avatar. The likenesses and diverse range of personalities exhibited is quite amazing.   Its worth seeing if you can get through the sappy music:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTH8kguvvqU


Here is an in-game protest video that represents one of the hundreds "Save Yoville"  demonstrations on-going. 

Edited by Dream Cutter, 30 January 2014 - 10:38 AM.

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#167 Tutorial Doctor   Members   


Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:27 PM

I am afraid to watch that Dream Cutter. Haha. I just made a post called "What's in a Game" where I finally came to the discovery about why things such as this happen. 


Why can people identify or get attached to a game so much so where they make a memorial to it. What is it about humans that feels some sort of need to defend their rights and such. 


I also came to the discovery of why games can affect humans in such a way. I mean, for years Chess was THE GAME of the nation, and if you were the best, you were treated like royalty (tragic life of Bobby Fischer). 


I realized that society and money and the most secret desires of our hearts have something to do with it. 


I would say that an avatar is a portrayal of the way a person wishes they were, but figure they never could be because of the condition of society. I would say that the YoVille world is an alternative world for people who would rather have a world in which they are the law makers and government. Same reason I think people get addicted to the Sims games. 


A way to express their contempt of reality, by, even for a little while, being in some alternate reality. 


But then this alternate reality escape becomes a new reality and they get sucked into that world. And along the way they make friends who share their contempts, and even real life friends. Then they are able to deal with the real world with someone who understands their contempts of the real world. So they get to no the avatar behind the avatar. 


Games are a social pastime. 

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.

#168 frob   Moderators   


Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:21 PM

I realized that society and money and the most secret desires of our hearts have something to do with it. 
Not secret.


It is pretty much obvious and well considered in psychology, anthropology, and biology. After your immediate needs are met (air, water, food, etc) the next most important things to survival are longer term safety and security. 


To many people both money and community help bring a feeling of safety and security. This is true for most animals as well. A community allows for safety of the group, enables cooperative works like group hunting or group defense, provides for potential mates, and otherwise does quite a lot of good. Although we're unique in using money, quite a few animals take steps to build food caches and even to farm their foods when able. Wolves, rodents, ants, bees, and many others engage in these behaviors.


There are many great reasons people establish social bonds and to feel a loss when they are severed. However, suing a game maker or petitioning the government to keep it around will not prevent the game's ultimate fate.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#169 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   


Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:02 AM

Well this is interesting - Zynga is purchasing NaturalMotion by divesting 15% of its development & support staff.  Sounds like a nice place to work.
Zynga seals $527 million mobile game deal, axes jobs in revival drive
Reuters By Malathi Nayak and Gerry Shih
January 30, 2014 8:51 PM
By Malathi Nayak and Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Zynga Inc will shed 15 percent of its workforce to slash costs and buy mobile game developer NaturalMotion for $527 million to refresh a stalled games pipeline, moves that sent its stock soaring 20 percent in after-hours trading.
Chief Executive Officer Don Mattrick, hired last year, is taking aggressive action to revive a company that developed "Farmville" and once dominated gaming on Facebook Inc's social network, but is now struggling to adapt to the rise of mobile gaming.
Zynga's largest acquisition to date, NaturalMotion is a 12-year-old studio that has created games like "Clumsy Ninja" for Apple Inc mobile devices. NaturalMotion is known for its Euphoria game engine, whose simulation technology has helped create powerful visuals in games like "Grand Theft Auto V".
"NaturalMotion significantly expands our creative pipeline and accelerates our mobile growth," chief operating officer Clive Downie said in an interview. "They are not an acquisition to fill a gap but one to expand our capabilities."
In July, Zynga hired Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft Corp's Xbox business, to replace co-founder Mark Pincus as CEO. Mattrick has been busy managing a series of layoffs, cutting costs and reviewing the company's product pipeline.
The San Francisco-based game company said in a statement on Thursday it expects to cut 314 jobs. It also posted a narrower-than expected quarterly loss.
"The missive is kind of the framework of a turnaround," said Mike Hickey, an analyst at the Benchmark Company.
While the management's recent steps show "a ray of optimism", key metrics of user engagement were still weak, Hickey said. Zynga has to prove that it can use NaturalMotion's games and talent to deliver titles that are long-lasting hits in a fad-driven mobile game market, he said.
The analyst pointed to the example of "Draw Something", a game Zynga acquired when it bought New York-based studio OMGPOP in 2012 for about $200 million. "Look at 'Draw Something'...that was something that on the surface looked great but quickly evaporated," Hickey said.
Zynga, once among the hottest tech companies with rapid revenue growth from popular Facebook-based games, was caught off guard as the games industry saw a boom in mobile games. The company has renewed its focus on transitioning to smartphones and tablet titles, the increasingly preferred format for casual gamers.
Zynga's core business continued to deteriorate last quarter, but not as quickly Wall Street feared.
For the quarter ended Dec 31, Zynga's revenue fell to $176.4 million from $311.16 million a year prior, compared to analysts' average estimate of $141.1 million.
Excluding certain items, it reported a net loss per share of 3 cents, a penny better than forecasts for a 4-cent loss per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company forecast first-quarter revenue in the range of $155 million to $165 million, surpassing Wall Street's estimates of $145.6 million.
"The guidance for 2014 was strong...it was in excess of what the Street was looking for and that shows the stabilization and expected re-growth of their business," Benchmark Company analyst Hickey said.
Zynga's shares soared to $4.26 after closing at $3.56 on the Nasdaq.

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#170 Servant of the Lord   Members   


Posted 03 February 2014 - 01:22 PM

It sucks that they bought NaturalMotion - NaturalMotion was originally a research company and middleware developer, and I doubt Zynga is going to keep on investing in the middleware. Maybe Havok (Intel) could buy NaturalMotion's middleware business.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' or 'SotL' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#171 ambershee   Members   


Posted 05 February 2014 - 06:33 AM

Either that or Matrick is forcing them to change tact entirely. Matrick isn't Pincus, after all, and this could be the first part of a larger scale shakeup now that Facebook is in decline as a platform.

#172 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   


Posted 10 February 2014 - 10:34 PM

Breaking news is...deal has been struck between Zynga and BMG...(rumors in validation)


Against all odds - looks like the layers have their way!


This posted by Zynga Friday as a hint:
Yoville Update
Howdy YoVillians!

We are in ongoing discussions with Big Viking Games about the possible sale of YoVille.

We don’t take the decision to sunset a game lightly, and want you to know that we are listening to your feedback as we continue to explore potential options for YoVille.

Ivory Ninja and the Yoville team


Also NBC News carried the massive response and vocal "Save Yoville" rallies story here: http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/game-thousands-yovillers-rally-doomed-virtual-town-n25001

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#173 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   


Posted 03 March 2014 - 10:55 AM

And The Word is.... wait a bit more...


Edited by Dream Cutter, 03 March 2014 - 03:47 PM.

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#174 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   


Posted 05 March 2014 - 10:18 AM

NEWS:  YOVILLE Spared! Yoville Update - March 5th 2014
Dear YoVille Players,

We want to thank you for your continued support of YoVille over the last 5 years. The outpouring of love you have showed for YoVille, and your dedication to the communities you have nurtured over the years in the game has inspired all of us at Zynga.

As some of you might know, we’ve had ongoing discussions with Big Viking Games, the original creators of YoVille, about ways we can work together to help keep the YoVille community alive. We are continuing to have those conversations and explore the future of YoVille and, as a result, will not be shutting down the game as planned on March 31.

We will have more updates to share with you soon, as our conversations with Big Viking Games progress and we determine next steps for the game, but we wanted to make sure you heard the news first as many of you have dedicated time over the last couple months to showing your support for YoVille and sharing your heartfelt stories about what the game means to you.

The Zynga Team

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#175 JTippetts   Moderators   


Posted 05 March 2014 - 11:29 AM

Brilliant. Now you can stop bumping this thing.

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