Edit: This has been reverted to the old system. Hurray!
Shortly after the introduction of Paris and robbing in all cities, the Top Mafia page has undergone a major stealth change, as I am sure many of you have noticed:
On this page you can promote mafia members to one of four tiers: Captains (holds 2 members), Lieutenants (holds 4 members), Enforcers (holds 6 members), and Street Thugs (holds 6 members). If you have an entire tier filled with players, you can collect a bonus item every 24 hours (per full tier). Unfortunately, the bonuses do not seem to be very good; I received 30 xp and 2 mid-level boosts as rewards.
The catch is that only "active" players (I am guessing they have to log in at least once every few days) will count, so good luck filling your street thug tier with active players who have to be under level 19! Don't worry though; you can send players who are MIA messages so that they will log in:
Okay, now onto the elephant in the room. All your old Top Mafia bonuses are gone! That means each job now costs 11% more energy and pays out 11% XP! Combine that with the fact that you can no longer get Top Mafia Wheelman or Top Mafia Mastermind bonuses and we end up with a pretty big job XP nerf.
This goes for all jobs in all cities. But hey, you get a few chances a day to get a boost or 30 XP, who cares about losing 22% efficiency?
Seriously though, if this stays as is, this is a major game change. You will no longer be able to level up energy accounts. This may not seem like a big deal at first, but this essentially cements in the "status quo" of the game. Most of the more serious players already have very high level energy account(s) and possibly a high level fighter account. These accounts were built by taking advantage of synergistic game mechanics, and now new players will no longer be able to take advantage of this.
Why is this important? Because new players will never be able to catch up to high level players unless some new system comes in that will allow players to torch through old cities and get 1000 attack / defense accounts within a few months. Otherwise, any new player just won't stand a chance and will end up quitting. It happens with all role-playing games - with each new expansion, less and less players enter the world, as there are more hurdles to jump before they can play at the same level as other more established players.
At any rate, sucks if you don't have an energy account. Everyone that already has one will now have an advantage over you! Sorry!
While one could argue that since this is happening to all players, it's not really a "nerf" to anyone since everyone is being brought down to the same level, but that is just not looking at the whole picture. What it all boils down to is that most people play this game because, at a very basic level, they like watching numbers go up. Really! Moving from level 487 to 488 and seeing the "Congratulations" text pop up with the guy smoking the cigar leads to a little bit of dopamine release and encourages the player to continue playing. And if leveling rates are reduced, people will enjoy the game that much less. I just can't see one reason for a change like this given the game's age and established player base.
I predict quite a bit of backlash. You think we lost a lot of players back in the server crashes of December '09? This will be worse. No one likes to be nerfed, especially when it is such a massive nerf to all players. Even fighter accounts will be pissed off, as they will not be able to level nearly as often. Why not swing by the official forums and let them know how you feel?