Thinkertry

Words with Friends 4.10

December 8, 2011
Gaming · Rant

Is this a new trend or something?

Lace up your galoshes and prepare for the blizzard of features rolling out in the All-New Words with Friends Store:

• Tile Pile shows you how many of each letter is left!
• Word-O-Meter tells you how strong your word is relative to all words your rack can create!

So now my friends can buy some tokens and have an in-game advantage over me? Unless, of course, I buy the Word-O-Meter (for 32 tokens) and Tile Pile (10 tokens) cheats as well? Is this trying to capitalize on the myriad of Words with Friends cheat apps out there? I think so.

And is the Word-O-Meter really worth 32 tokens? I think a fair price would be 30 tokens: that way I could get both cheats for $5 and not have to pay $10 for 80 tokens (leaving 32 left over, probably for other cheats costing 40 tokens eventually). But maybe that’s just me being too selfish, hm?

Zynga, a year or so ago you pulled off something great: you created (edit: bought) a Scrabble game that became even more popular than the actual Scrabble app made by EA. You offered really simple-to-use multiplayer Scrabble before they did, and you grew like nuts because of that. Adding in-app cheats to your Scrabble clone effectively makes it a word puzzle game with hints: not Scrabble. I seriously doubt that loyal Scrabblers are going to be happy when they find out that the reason their friend has been winning lately is because he paid an extra $10 to have an advantage. That is not at all the spirit of Scrabble.

Celebrate the season by rating us five stars — stars keep the updates coming!

I’m not going to celebrate this…

Update: Yup, it looks like even more options are on the way. Clicking the “more” button on the bottom right corner reveals this new row of icons. The two furthest right are the new Tile Pile and Word-O-Meter options, but the other two aren’t available in the store yet. I can’t wait to see what those’ll be.

Update 2: An exclusive article was published on Reuters just a few hours ago with the headline: “Zynga says [they] can double number of paid players”. Here are a few interesting quotes:

Most of Zynga’s revenue comes from more than 227 million monthly active users who buy virtual items such as houses and tractors while they play free games on the Internet…. “We could see that doubling,” Pincus said….

The company also said in the presentation that it now has 13 million daily average users on mobile. This is up from 11.1 million the company had previously given for the month of October…. Investors are looking at mobile games growth to see if the company can reduce its reliance on Facebook, where it currently makes 95 percent of its revenue….

Alright, understandable. They’re about to go public and they want to show that they can make a bunch of money without Facebook’s help. With the user boost from the whole Alec Baldwin thing, now was probably the time to launch the update. Fine.

Executives sidestepped questions about player retention and churn rates, focusing instead on the growing number of monthly active users.

Strauss Zelnick, chief executive of video game maker Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, recently questioned Zynga’s business model, saying the company quickly churns through players.

When asked about Zelnick’s remarks, Zynga Chief Operating Officer John Schappert said his company can quickly launch new games, attracting more players.

This is the troublesome part. Releasing a popular game, making a bunch of cash at the peak of its popularity, and then not caring when users start to leave might make short-term business sense, but it doesn’t form a strong long-term relationship with customers. You can only “quickly launch new games, attracting more players” for so long until those players get fed up with you: and that’s when you run into trouble.