A lot of my friends on Facebook, and people in general, have a long standing hatred for Facebook games, which is unfortunate for me because every once and a while I get really obsessed with one and play it for a few weeks straight. I’m not going to say there’s anything wrong with hating Facebook games, but if you really want to roll your eyes the next time someone won’t shut up about Bejeweled Blitz, at least hate the game for the right reasons.
Why do people show disdain for games on Facebook? Probably the most common reason I hear is because they’re not “real games.” Which ties into people who play Facebook games not being “real gamers.” Allow me to roll my eyes at you if that’s the case. Please, don’t be elitist. Facebook games are casual games and every bit deserving of a person’s time if that’s what they like.
However, Facebook games are flawed in several ways that do deserve hate. So if you’re going to bash these games, let me tell what to hate.
In non-Facebook game players’ defense, receiving dozens of game invites to play, contribute parts/items, energy boosts, etc. is very annoying. I personally feel bad for every damn request I’ve ever sent to friends who don’t play a certain game. And it’s almost as frustrating for us playing to have to send them. It’s been years since I’ve played Farmville (yes, I will not deny it) and that’s one of Zynga’s game mechanics that I hated the most.
Most games do this. Currently I’m playing Marvel: Avengers Alliance and Jane Austen Unbound, and like many games there are certain upgrades that require friends’ help or in game money (both of which suck if you’re poor and friendless). This leads to some people (*cough* *cough*) accepting friend requests from strangers just because they also play the same game.
In game money is another horrible idea. It’s worse than playing on a free MMORPG, because if you want the fancy or rare items, you need to spend money on in-game money. Just about every Facebook game starts you off with 10 of whatever the in-game currency is, plus $1 every time you level up. Limited edition items seem to come out every few weeks too. But when I play these games, I don’t want to spend real money on items that seem even less real than something you can purchase in an MMORPG.
Also, once you log into the game the first thing that usually pops up is the option to send gifts. And here I thought I wanted to play a game, not request digital items. My handpicked Avengers team needs to save the world, but wait … better send someone I haven’t spoken to in years some shawarma …
Want something else to hate? How about the contradiction of needing to complete tasks to advance, but hampered by energy limits. In theory, making things cost energy should mean limiting a person from wasting all day on a game. However, energy can be purchased or just wait 20 minutes and you can come back to play for another few minutes (lather, rinse, repeat). No wonder some Farmville players needed interventions.
Marvel: Avengers Alliance has really pissed me off with a variation on this theme. They introduced special missions that must be completed within a certain time. However, in addition to energy, they require special “unstable iso-8″ (a giftable energy item). If you complete the mission in the time frame, you get to recruit limited edition hero. But you can’t easily complete the mission unless you spend money. When the second such mission was announced (with Emma Frost as the end prize) I was mad enough to rant on game’s message boards. Naturally it resulted in nothing, but it made me feel better.
These are all reasons to really hate Facebook games and you don’t even have to play to agree. As console or computer gamers you can bond with casual gamers over the unnecessarily complicated system game developers keep using.
Is it worth it though? In a way yes. I like having Spider-Woman fight in my Avengers team, plus you should see my personalized Regency house (in Jane Austen Unbound) or my lab (in CSI: Crime City). It’s all about showing off and playing with others.