With all of the new and interesting features lately, you might think that I'm a Zynga employee who wrestled this blog from Colin to promote Mafia Wars 24/7. Not the case. As promised in September, this blog was not revived to serve as a Zynga cheerleading squad. And tonight, I am putting my pom poms down.
If you're reading a Mafia Wars blog, you're likely a dedicated player - and it makes no sense to simply complain all the time about a free game that gives us all... something (an addiction? an OCD fix? I'll speak for myself).
It's only fair to give Mafia Wars praise and criticism on balance, as developments warrant. Having praised Mafia Wars for some truly innovative developments, it's time to mention a few things that need a fix. So tonight will be the debut of the Mafia Wars Hall of Shame, a feature I will run on occasion to highlight some... lacking... aspects of the game.
As with any beauty pageant, we go in reverse order:
Coming in third today is Fight Club and its Victory Coins. As fully detailed by Colin when Fight Club debuted, you'd need to win thousands upon thousands of fights to get to Fight Club levels where the loot even approximates something that drops in any random Vegas job.
Lately, Mafia Wars gives you the option of sharing Victory Coins when you win fights. For the most part, however, I suspect people are watching their Fight Club levels and Victory Coins rise as a by-product of their normal fighting - and not as a primary goal. This could be fixed if Mafia Wars would update the loot so that the early-level stats are comparable with what's already out there - not worse.
Tonight's Mafia Wars runner-up feature for this edition of Hall of Shame is the recent Loyalty Program, with its Emerald, Gold, and Platinum levels.
The rewards at Emerald level - which everyone starts at - are almost useless. You can get a Health Refill by using your Rubles and Pesos at any time, and a 22/35 Armor piece is not likely going to move you up in the ranks.
The one decent item available at Emerald level - the 58/29 Executor Pistol - is not actually available until you get enough Loyalty Points. Don't be fooled by the "Purchase Now" button - click it, and you will be asked to... purchase Reward Points.
This program reminds of how airlines, credit cards, and hotels encourage you to stick to one company...the difference being, I don't have another choice of where to play Mafia Wars OTHER than Zynga. Where else would I direct my Mafia Wars loyalty??
The benefits for moving up to Gold and Platinum levels are very attractive loot items, shown below - but then again, you can buy many of these items (like Crates) with your existing RPs in the Marketplace, or buy RPs just to get the items. Adding levels AND Loyalty Points... a bit much.
I understand that Zynga is a corporation. A hugely successful corporation, in fact, and good for them - their marketing and innovative games made them over $250 million in revenues in 2009, and has the company valued at $1.2 billion dollars, according to public reports.
Zynga has every right to encourage players to purchase Reward Points. In fact, the recent promotion that would subsidize the cost of new schools in earthquake-ravaged Haiti was undeniably commendable and puts Zynga on the map with other socially conscious companies. But there has to be a better hook than the Loyalty Program.
My #1 offender in this debut edition of the Mafia Wars Hall of Shame is the Crime Spree feature:
First of all, what exactly merits the NEW logo here? This was last updated in July or so, when it already had been useless for months prior. Mafia Wars rebooted it with a promise of a new loot item at each level.
That worked for me exactly ONCE. I was at Level 31 and - upon reaching Level 32 - got the awesome Trouble Maker weapon with 55/46 stats. I imagined loading up an arsenal of Trouble Makers. Yet upon reaching level 33... nothing. 34? Nada. 35? Zilch. And so on.
The prospect of a significant loot item at each level was necessary because of the mediocrity of the loot you typically get when some one participates in the Crime Spree feature. Here are two representative examples:
These two items, with (30/10) and (17/25) stats, won't possibly make your top 501 items in any fashion.
Crime Spree IS useful for one and one thing only: when some one sends YOU a Crime Spree request, you can cash it in for 50 Energy points or 40 Stamina points - but only 5x a day, and only once a day per Mafia member.
Given that no one is using Crime Spree because of the lack of decent loot, even this aspect has dried up - though I do see people on their feeds asking "some one send me a Crime Spree please!" - and you know it's not to earn another Sumotori Fighter with 17 attack points.
Mafia Wars rolled out great new features in September and October: Challenge Mission: Dublin; Declare War!; Secret Drops; and Secret Missions, to name the highlights. If they could make these existing features worthwhile, the game would be at an all-time peak.
And to end on a high note, as I pick my Zynga pom-poms up from the ground, the Daily Chance Lotto Claim Prize feature indeed found its way back to a random number from 1 to 5 tonight: