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Interview: Zynga On Retaining Users With  FarmVille 's  Lighthouse Cove
Interview: Zynga On Retaining Users With FarmVille's Lighthouse Cove
September 19, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Zynga explained that in order to maintain users in its popular social game FarmVille, the company primarily aims to give users "more of what they love."

The most recent example of this strategy is the game's newest expansion, dubbed Lighthouse Cove. The new update, which debuted today, gives players a new autumn-themed farm set in New England, with new crops, animals, and buildings all based on the upcoming season.

Speaking to Gamasutra, FarmVille general manager Nate Etter said that appealing to users' existing interests plays a huge part in Zynga's strategy to update the game and keep its players entertained.

"For every content update or expansion, we do it with the sole purpose of entertaining and having fun with our players, and bringing them more of what they love," he said.

Etter said that by interacting with the game's users via forums, online Q&As and local playtests, the team can learn exactly what users are looking for and provide content based on that input.

One thing that FarmVille players particularly enjoy, he said, is content that reflects real-world holidays and events, and Zynga kept these interests in mind when developing the latest expansion.

"Reflecting the real world in the game is something we've found that our players really take a lot of delight in Even before we had any expansions, we would bring fall and winter to people's home farms, and people really enjoyed that," Etter said, noting that the autumn-theme in the Lighthouse Cove update was in part created as a result of user feedback.

Etter added that even between thee major expansions to the game, Zynga makes sure to update the game on a very regular basis, to constantly give players something new to see or do, "We try to bring something new that delights our players every week, whether its a smaller update or something as big as Lighthouse Cove."

The Lighthouse Cove update marks the third expansion FarmVille has seen since its 2009 release. Zynga launched the first expansion, English Countryside, in March, and the Lady Gaga themed GagaVille in May.

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Andy Evans
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All is not wonderful with the Farmville users. Zynga does not like negative comments about their product. They have quality issues with the code and ignore customer complaints. Old bugs keep reappearing and users are told to stop reporting them. For example "Out of Synch". Zyngas response is "OOS" is a "whoops". If you suggest user action, like "Boycott", they ban you from their forums. So the only option is to live with poor guilty control or quit. Maybe that's why they are loosing customer base. So adding Lighthouse Cove is more important that fixing bugs, that at times make the game unusable, Good Luck.. Zynga has lost another user.

Nancy Strickland
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Lighthouse Cove isn't something that users want. It is primarily a new section of Farmville designed as a revenue source. Almost every growth aspect in this section requires the player to spend cash. Players cannot enjoy even the beginning play without spending cash to advance. Zynga has made themselves a favorite among game players by designing games that are fun, simple and cheap to play at the beginning. While you are always able to spend money to advance and to decorate, players can still enjoy the experience without spending anything at all. Once you have tried the game out, beyond the beginner's level, and decided you like it then you will decide if you want to spend money. Asking players to spend significant amounts of money on an untested, untried part of a game will not find a warm spot with players.