The world of casual games is a lot more hardcore than you'd imagine
Today, coworker Andrew Clouther shared a video with me. In this video, a girl going by the username Bliss, is expressing her anguish and sorrow at the recent announcement that Zynga would be shutting down their game YoVille, and instead focusing their efforts on other titles.
I was wary at first, but seeing the amount of positive responses from other people who are also very upset about the game closing, I realized that this may just be a very hardcore community based around a casual social game.
Here is the video. It's fairly long, sitting at 11 minutes, but if you skip to the 8 minute mark, you'll get a pretty good sense of how this girl is feeling. *Spoiler* tears flow.
Now obviously this is an extreme case of fandom, especially when she compares the game shutting down, to Zynga basically killing off your whole family but offering you a pen in exchange for your loss, but I can't help but understand the underlying frustration.
There have been numerous MMOs that have gone the way of the dinosaur, and each time, the fans have spoken out in hopes of saving the project. This happened when City of Heroes went offline, and more recently, the dev behind Warhammer Online has even proposed an ideal situation where players could still wander the land within the game if they so choose, just to preserve the memory of the game and the rich history it possesses.
And why wouldn't people be upset. After all, theyre putting a lot of time into a game. Hours building up their characters or housing. Hours spent forging the persona representing them in a virtual world. For a company to simply pull the plug on all their hard work can indeed seem like a slap to the face.
For many, this is also their escape. In the case of YoVille, this was a virtual community where players could meet up with people from around the world, simply to hang out and chat. There are people who are introverts and don't enjoy being in public among other people, but feel natural and comfortable in a virtual environment talking to others through their avatars. If YoVille was their place of escape, pulling the plug would mean their world would literally cease to exist.
Of course, to Zynga, it all comes down to business. If a game isn't as profitable as they want, they'll close it to focus on others. They've done it before and they'll do it again. For cases like this, it's sad that they'll be hurting such a passionate community of gamers who seek refuge in an online world, but in the end, it's not personal, it's business.
It turns out, Big Viking Games, the original developers of YoVille are actually trying to get the game back from Zynga, and keep it going for all the dedicated fans that are trying to fight to keep the game alive. This is Big Viking Games' official response:
Dear YoVille Fans:
We at Big Viking Games have been in touch with Zynga, and hope to be able to provide an update soon. They are looking at the possibility of our offer to buy back YoVille, and we appreciate all the amazing and touching stories and comments you've shared with us.
The YoVille community has done an amazing job of reaching out to the press and sharing your story with them about how much this means to you all. We really appreciate all the support you've shown us, and the stories and amazing videos (crystalgem01 & bliss1!) you've put together to encourage us.
Also, thank you for all the "Likes" on Big Viking Games, and also supporting and checking out and leaving comments on our other Facebook games (FishWorld & Tiny Kingdoms)!
Please hang tight and we'll do our best to update everyone when we have more information!
Thank you again from all of us at Big Viking Games!
Looks like YoVille's fate can still have some hope at being saved, and there might still be a happy ending for the game and its dedicated fanbase. Fingers crossed!