Social gaming giant Zynga, the time-stealers behind the hugely successful FarmVille, have announced that on August 2nd they are shutting down one of their other Facebook games, Street Racing, yet do not plan to offer refunds on the purchased items. Instead, everyone will get the same amount credits they spent back in their accounts, as well as 100 more, to spend on other Zynga games. "Store credit," in other words.
After reading the comments on Facebook and the official Street Racing forums at Zynga.com, it is obvious people are not only upset that their investments are disappearing, but confused at why a game that has over 400,000 players a month is being shut down with less than a month’s notice. Even more devious is the fact that the Terms of Service were updated on July 2nd to include the following:
- “Zynga reserves the right discontinue the Service or to change the content of the Service in any way and at any time, with or without notice to you, without liability.” Sec. 1(d).
- “Regardless of the terminology used, Virtual Currency and Virtual Goods may never be redeemed for “real world” money, goods or other items of monetary value from Zynga or any other party.” Sec. 3(a).
- You agree that all sales of Virtual Goods and Currencies are final. No refunds will be given, except in our sole and absolute discretion. Sec. 3(e).
There are those that believe casual games such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and other purely social, time-dependent games and the people that play them have helped lead to the state of gaming we are currently facing, which is the downfall of the hardcore gamer. I, on the other hand, have always been a huge proponent of gaming in any fashion. I think it’s great that my mom plays Bejeweled and my girlfriend spends her downtime at work on Kongregate. I even tried out FarmVille for a week when it first started gaining popularity. But if this is the way the social gaming industry plans to do their business in the future as they continue to grow, it will become obvious who the true enemy to gaming is.
This is not too uncommon an event on the surface, as free-to-play games, such as the F2P MMO Exteel, are starting up and shutting down all the time. Unfortunately, Zynga seems to have taken advantage of this game’s closure without too much concern for the fans of their game. Hopefully you casual gamers out there will pay close attention to the inherent risks before investing too heavily in micro-transactions in the future.