Could Facebook go Farmville, Mafia War free without a user revolt?

Could Facebook go Farmville, Mafia War free without a user revolt?

Summary: The relationship that is Facebook and Zynga, the social gaming company behind Mafia Wars and Farmville, has reportedly taken a turn for the worse. The fallout should be fun to watch.

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The relationship that is Facebook and Zynga, the social gaming company behind Mafia Wars and Farmville, has reportedly taken a turn for the worse. It's so bad that Zynga could theoretically leave Facebook. The fallout would be very interesting to watch.

TechCrunch's Michael Arrington reports that Zynga is fighting---umm negotiating---with Facebook over Facebook Credits, which takes a 30 percent cut of payments. Facebook also wants Zynga to cut a deal where it is primarily on its platform. Zynga would be stupid to tie its fate solely to Facebook and is now pondering its own social game network called Zynga Live.

Personally, I'd love to see this Facebook-Zynga relationship go nuclear. I'd also love to see Zynga pull out of Facebook completely. Why? There are two things that I find enjoyable: People watching---social networks are great Petri dishes---and pondering business models.

On the first front, it's clear that the primary objective for many folks on Facebook is to play games. As an academic exercise I wonder if people would be as active on Facebook without Farmville. I doubt it. Unfortunately, I don't play Farmville so don't really know how my own usage would change. But it's a safe bet that a Farmville-free Facebook would result in some user backlash. Maybe folks would even deactivate their accounts.

As for the business model, I'd like Zynga to pull out to see if another company fills the void. A Zynga departure would also give us an indicator on the health of Facebook's app economy. It would also be interesting to see how Zynga does without Facebook.

The final point: It must annoy Facebook to no end that Zynga arguably has a better business model. Facebook changes its privacy policy every month in an effort to build social graphs, connect the Web and grab data that may or may not be monetized. Zynga's model is much cleaner---and proven. Zynga simply sells you virtual stuff to play games. It's the World of Warcraft model. The commerce is clear and you avoid all of the messy privacy stuff that could ultimately turn Facebook into AOL.

When you boil this complicated Facebook-Zynga dance down it's all about the money. In a perfect world, these two would just merge. Instead, Facebook is likely to try and compete with Zynga. Should be fun to watch.

Related: Facebook for Grownups: Can Microsoft, Apple or Google build one?

Topics: CXO, Mobility, Social Enterprise

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9 comments
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  • RE: Could Facebook go Farmville, Mafia War free without a user revolt?

    Farmvill and the rest of the games perform so poorly that they reflect badly on Facebook. Facebook would be smart to drop them.
    dshorn@...
  • RE: Could Facebook go Farmville, Mafia War free without a user revolt?

    It depends on which side of the argument you are on.... it wouldn't bother me one bit to see Zynga leave Facebook... and I spent money on its games but refuse to play them now because they blocked us out for not allowing them to send us emails (they already had them too).... I have many email accounts and they in themselves are time consuming along with website managing... I don't need more email... played at least 4 Zynga games but now play less of the others but enjoy it a lot more and will say I do like FarmTown better than where Zynga was taking FarmVille ....
    brooktracystevenson@...
  • DROP THEM!

    These games RUIN Facebook, and clutter mine up with too much garbage!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: RE: Could Facebook go Farmville, Mafia War free without a user revolt?

    my farmville game is a desert of dead crops and boredom, level 70 is the max, it plays atrociously due to being flash based.<br><br>Mafia wars I still play they added some flash elements which messed it up a bit but there's some camaraderie there with a few friendships developing.<br><br>I have made some purchases from Zynga but only in supporting charity, like the Haiti appeal they ran.<br><br>My favourite Facebook game was Dope Wars which at one time had a very vibrant community and forum systems, Zynga took it over, ruined it, the characters who played out the behind the scenes soap opera on the forums left, the game died and then Zynga shut it down.
    hill60
  • Unfortunately I know where they would end up.

    They'll end up tied to Google on one part because of the coming Flash release. Folks are so excited about Flash on Android just to play these stupid games and they really are stupid to me. I'm more interested in the coming devices that can push some serious polygon and have hidef output to play real games. To hell with the flash crap. All I need it for is video which HTML 5 is doing away with anyway. On a tangent its funny to see how many people swore HTML 5 would never get off the ground to replace flash are now singing its praises since Apple is hinging on it.
    storm14k
    • I agree

      @storm14k

      These games are horrible and have ruined Fac.... Any social networking site Zynga touches.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Could Facebook go Farmville, Mafia War free without a user revolt?

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  • good idea about facebook

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