Why are Zynga's facebook games so buggy?

I’ve been playing some of the various Zynga facebook games such as Farmville and Frontierville for a couple of years now. One thing which has annoyed me is how buggy the games. There are times I can’t play for more than 5 minutes without getting a message saying the game needs to reload. When this happens, I inevitably end up losing points, losing energy, or having to redo a task I just completed.

I’m sure some of this is from the constant new features that Zynga introduces on each games. But, for a company wanting to go public and make money from selling things to be used for their games, why can’t they fix the problem with the stability of their games?

I know it isn’t just me nor is it restricted to a particular browser.

“Danged internet went all quiet on me!” are words that make me want to KILL! They usually come right after I’ve harvested a metric shit-ton of crops or fed umpteen animals. Or worse yet, when I’ve taken a long time to rearrange my screen to better fit the boatload of new buildings, moving countless small animals and oodles of trees and trying to find an unobtrusive location for those useless SIGNS that I can’t store in my shed, and I’m just about done, here comes that dreadful popup informing me that all the work I just did was all in vain.

One of these days, I’m gonna bushwhack ol’ Frontier Jack!

If they’ve been continually buggy and you still play them, maybe they just don’t care. They’re not losing enough players due to the bugginess to be worth fixing, and they aren’t appealing to the high-brow who want polished games.

Tell them about it. Zynga is responsive to people who complain, at least in my experience. And they usually give you some in-game freebies for your troubles. When I wrote about a problem with Cityville (which I’ve since stopped playing), they gave me 50K coins and 20 City Cash. So, it’s worth it to report bugs.

My experience is the opposite. Back when I played Mafia Wars, my account was bugged and could no longer level up, despite being below the maximum. It was 100% reproducible, happened on multiple systems and networks, completely on their end. I wrote up a concise but detailed summary of the problem (I work in tech support myself), thenI waited about 3 weeks (despite an auto-response saying that it would be within 48 hours) to get a completely useless response from their support. It was labeled as a mass-response to please wait, and they’ll contact me with an update. Of course, they never did.

I wrote back again asking if my account would be fixed, and got a response 3 weeks later with a generic apology, and despite having my original ticket number AND another description of the issue, asking me to contact them again with what the problem was. I wrote back again and told them to screw off, basically. I gave up on their games forever.

About a month after the second response from me (ticket still open, apparently), I got a message that they were upgrading their systems just when they got my ticket and that I needed to wait longer. And two weeks after that, I got a message telling me to reinstall Flash, and if the problem still occurred, to try a different computer. SUPER HELPFUL.

Granted, this was a couple of years ago. Maybe they’ve changed. But based on my experience, their contact management people have complete shit for brains. I’ve worked in customer contact for most of my career and this kind of shit is just inexcusable.

Considering the types of games Zynga makes on Facebook, why on earth would they care whether they were buggy or not?

Taking a guess, I would say Zyngas business model is based on people discovering their games, thinking they are great, and during that initial honeymoon period perhaps spending some money on tokens to open Mafia wars crates or some such rubbish, all in a rush to level up faster. This is also the period when they will be most active about pushing the game onto their friends (to try and have a bigger Mafia or whatnot)

I would also guess that any users that remain past that honeymoon period do not spend any money on the game. They know the rules, and will level up through ingame tactics. They have also exhausted all their friends and will not sign up any new users. At this point, they are not worth diddlysquat to Zynga, except in some sort of nebulous captive audience for advertising form. (There will be exceptions of course, but this will just prove the rule)

Accepting this, if true, why would a Zynga representive really care if an existing user stays or goes? They want NEW users, the existing users are just a pain in the arse.

To attract new users, they push flashy new cities, flashy new weapons, flashy new stuff, more flashy new crap. And of course all this flashy new crap creates bugs in the existing games. They dont care. It attracts new users, and thats their focus.

I played Mafia wars for a few weeks, a few years ago. I remember how buggy it was, and I remember reading some of the threads in the forums. Full of people stating that;
“Zynga need to listen to the loyal customers. I have spent six million hours in this game, and I am a level six hundred Capo del Bono, why wont they listen to meeee? If things dont improve, I will be done with this game.”
Yeah. Think about it kiddo.

It doesn’t help that their chosen platform is also inherently buggy. The first and so far only release that wasn’t horribly buggy was 10.1. And 10.2 is now out.

Also, they all still support IE6. That’s got to take some work.