1. That's a lot of data
Sure, part of the reason why players can only request help so often or send gifts so often is so you don't progress too quickly. However, requests also have to be processed through servers, or the computers whose sole purpose is to keep online games running. Every time you send or receive a request or item, that data has to be processed somewhere. Now, the information on how much game data Zynga's or Facebook's servers process daily isn't immediately accessible, but you can imagine that with 14 million daily players on average, it's a lot.
If both farms were active at all times, players would receive requests from both farms no matter what. Regardless of how many players are on one side or the other at any given moment, to treat each farm individually would result in an absolutely insane amount of data. FarmVille can barely handle 14 million players on any given day, but what if that number were to effectively double in almost an instant (thanks to a second farm for everyone)? FarmVille would fall to its knees for a very long time, that's what. So, the Pause feature is admittedly a harsh way of handling what would have probably crashed FarmVille on Day One of the English Countryside release, but I can't think of a better way. Can you?
Ask any veteran FarmVille player for their major complaints. They'll likely tell you that Zynga either releases stuff too frequently or there isn't enough room to put it all. Granted, most of it is Holiday buildings and items, but what about crafting buildings, animal housing and the like? Most of it is in either Storage or your Garage, isn't it? Or if you're like me, you just delete to make room. Sure, Zynga could expand our farms all we want, but how long before it just becomes unmanageable? It has reached a point for me where if a friend is above a certain level, visiting is out of the question as Flash will surely crash and burn.
It's a difficult conundrum for Zynga: Either continue to offer larger and larger farms to facilitate the deluge of features (Flash can only handle so much) or stop releasing content so often and risk losing interest from its daily players. And thus the expansion was born: A way to introduce new ideas and features while keeping farms manageable ... for now.
Admit it, FarmVille was getting stale. Bloggers, players and Zynga itself can blame the Facebook changes of 2010 all it wants for the game's fall from superiority, and they're partly right. But at some point we all must come clean and consider what FarmVille would have looked like six months from now if Zynga kept adding features to the original game. Players would continue to leave in droves because, frankly, looking at the same farm day in and day out was downright boring. Obviously Zynga was honest with itself, so now it's our turn.
When it comes down to it, looking back at all the work you've done for years can't be what ties you down. Even if you're still having fun (nothing's stopping you from staying, really), it will reach a breaking point eventually. The numbers show that's exactly what happened for almost 40 million players. Just look at the MMO scene: Games like World of Warcraft would have died out years ago if Blizzard, it's developer, didn't revamp its world every few years with new expansion packs. Think of it that way and the two worlds of gaming aren't so different.
The bottom line is that persistent games like FarmVille, ironically, can't last forever. Even if you're bummed about starting over--an argument I just don't buy, because you're the same level and could have prepared--sometimes you must accept change. Change is natural, and it's a good thing, trust me. And even if Zynga somehow makes the Pause feature optional, do you really want to maintain two farms at once? It's time to face the facts: This is the future of not just FarmVille, but the social gaming genre. Just look at the four corners of your FrontierVille homestead--Zynga is already prepared for change.
Check out the rest of our English Countryside coverage right here.
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