Today we have a riddle - and discussion about a recent Mafia Wars development - best read while listening to a standout track from Pearl Jam's 1999 album, Yield, entitled... WISHLIST.
Here's the riddle. What do these items:
have in common with THESE items?
If you answered, "They are all drop Loot from Las Vegas," you are right... so far.
Now what do the items above have in common with THESE items?
Many of these items are NOT from Vegas - one is from Dublin and others are from the new Declare War or Secret Mission features. But what do they have in common, besides being impressive-stat Loot items?
Need another clue? Here are a couple more items - from the new levels of the Chop Shop and Weapons Depot - that have something in common with everything above:
Give up? Here's a screen shot that essentially answers this riddle, that is, what all of the above items have in common. Which of these items does NOT belong with the ones above?
The Special Part fits with the group above, whilethe Micro-Fission Cell does not. Why? Notice how you CANNOT gift, or add to your Wishlist, the Special Parts (needed for upper level Chop Shop and Weapons Depot items) but CAN trade the Micro-Fission Cell (used in the Armory)?
Why can't you put the high-end Vegas loot and the even better items that are dropping from missions and wars on your Wishlist? This phenomenon didn't start with Las Vegas items - even a Bangkok fight loot drop item - the Rhinoceros (54 defense) - can't be gifted or put on your Wishlist.
And here's why: I refer to this issue as the Wishlist Police. Just outside of Mafia Wars, all across Facebook and the Internet, are groups and sites dedicated to trading, buying, and selling Mafia Wars Loot and Collections items. (Full disclosure: one is a sponsor of this blog and, like Zynga, has every right to compete in the open market).
Some of this you can do right on Mafia Wars while instant messaging with a Mafia buddy. "Can you send me a Rivet? I'll send you back a Hammer." But other trades are more voluminous, or can't be done through deals with friends. Got an extra City Belt? Trade it for a 150 assorted Weapons Depot upgrades.
At some point, Zynga realized that if an item can be put on your Wishlist, or sent as a gift, it can also be traded or sold. Some one at a high level could get 501 Dreacht Capalls and 501 of every top attack and defense Weapon, Armor, Vehicle, and Animal, and be unbeatable. Railguns, Chain Vipers, and Hunters would be worthless if people could trade Black Irishes, Dreacht Capalls, and Ballista Missile Launchers. You'd have players with near-200,000-level attack and defense stats.
Some one call the Wishlist Police!
From one perspective, the prohibition on being able to Wishlist - and trade - high-end loot is a good thing - it evens the playing field so that a Plasma Rifles and Mugati (items that even beginning-level players can obtain) still have meaning in the game.
On the other hand, it is Zynga's attempt at gaming-socialism, making sure that no one gets too far ahead or fall too far behind. I'm not opposed to socialism in all forms, but Mafia Wars IS a competitive game where the goal is to get to higher levels, harder jobs, and bigger rewards. So what's with the guiding hand?
I think the answer has little to do with Zynga's concern about players falling behind or getting ahead, and more (everything) to do with Zynga realizing that it has to impede the trading boards and selling sites if it wants players to purchase Reward Points and high-end items from Zynga.
Otherwise, no one is going to use Reward Points to get an item like the one above, or buy Reward Points to be able to afford those items, if you can simply trade your Roulette Wheel or City Belt or Mountain Lion for an item with a 60+ attack.
What are your thoughts on the Wishlist Police?