October 7, 2010

The Wishlist Police

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?

Bookmark and Share
Digg this


  1. I think only collectors are concern or care about these loots. They don't impact your att/def in the game because fights are dictated by individual skill points (att/def/stamina/energy).

    The team stats are just fun part of the game only. I don't see serious players at the platinum/diamond level caring about these team stats.

    If Zynga really wants to squash this, they can improve the team stats value in the game, but they will lose some long time money contributing players! Of course they will lose a large part of the RP business if this truth came out and more players know about this fact.

    In the end, the wishlist police system is a way for Zynga to continue making RP purchase for exclusive loots.

  2. I kind of like the WL police. I see many people farming items and sending them to their fighting account. The game should be what you can do with your account not what you can do with your account and 3 other energy accounts.

    In addition, I was under the impression that your skill points played a roll in fighting but also included the need for top loot for all 501 mafia members. Did this change?

  3. It's an internal ratio that Zynga establishes, but it is something like 100 team stat = 1 skill pt value.

  4. Should set up a boycott of the game till all those items that should be tradable become tradable.

  5. I personally wish Zynga had never introduced trading into the game at all (at least outside of collections). I think it widens the gap between those that are strong and those that are not and gives a huge advantage to anyone who has been playing a long time. Not that it shouldn't count for anything, but the gap is so wide I can't imagine just starting the game now and ever having a hope of competing with some of the leaders (or anyone who has been playing for a while, for that matter) in this game.

    I agree with the person who said it should be about what you can do with your account. I felt like I HAD to start another account just to have loot so I could still be strong with my fighter/main. I resisted doing that for a long time and it has hurt me in the long run. And, I will never be as strong as some people in the game whether or not I play daily, select perfectly how I spend skill points, etc., because I refuse to spend 20 hours a day on this game so that I can run 10 farmer accounts and spend several hours outside of the game trading. Trading just took it to a level that makes it difficult to keep up with. But, JMO. . .

  6. I think the buying of rewards points as a scam...I did when I started briefly and then the items I bought we're made worthless when the new items came out. Zynga introduces a new city and you're back to square one. Remember the BA-12 rifle, the armored limousine, canonoza, z-blade? Zynga is stupid to think I'm going to spend 35 RP for 1 special gun that has a 40 attack. I can spend 10 RP for a full energy refill and get a better item about 10 times by doing the same job over and over. That never made any sense to me. Zynga is just dumb and greedy.

    They are just trying to push out the traders/seller because they are a much better value then paying Zynga out the ass or spending days and days to get the item yourself. Its called a free market, Zynga, stop trying to keep your little monopoly. They basically want to keep it so they can f#@k you anytime they want and you pull out your wallet and take it everytime.

  7. This is a much overdue change in the game. The gifting system has been broken for a long time. Loot stats have been highly inflationary lately, and each new addition to the game means that serious players will have to put in time looting on a fake account or money to purchase the new items. I don't want to put that much time into the game, and I would certainly never spend money on it.
    The rules apply to everyone, so the new policies make it a lot easier to play the game casually without having to worry about the "arms race" that begins anew every time new items are released. And the new policies also protect players who buy from item sellers, who actually have no right to sell Mafia Wars items, which belong to Zynga under the Terms of Service. If you choose to buy items from a seller that is not Zynga, you do it at your own risk, since you have no recourse if your items are never delivered.

  8. If I send a hammer it means i need one. I do not like getting loyalty points instead of a hammer. They are changing everything so much that I am having a hard time keeping up with the game. My time is limited so these changes make it more difficult for me to play.

  9. I don't think there is anything illegal about selling MW items. How is it different than selling anything else that you have purchased? I do not see any reason in purchasing items for real money at the prices they are offered. If there weren't so many of them, players may try to own one of each at a more affordable price. If someone wants to pay someone $1000 for top loot...whatever...it is just a game. And lol at them when the loot is low end 6 months later. But, I am tired of Zynga's relentless attempts to make more and more money off players. At the moment requiring excessive special mission items to complete the last stages of cities. The popups....WTH!!!!!!!!!

  10. I can not for all the googling find the link on your site.. of ALL wishlist items.. so I can add items I do not have to my wishlist... like reinforced steel. using FB.. your tile link for Italy worked a treat

  11. All those arguments in favor of or against trading set aside -- they're all valid, from one point of view or another, however, only from a player's perspective.

    Talking 'bout socialism and the wishlist police, there's one one thing that never should be forgotten: Mafia Wars is Zynga's property! They invented the game, they own it, they may do with it, alter, extend, restrict, or cancel any feature of the game as they please, any way, any time. IT'S THEIR PROPERTY!!! There's no right, for nobody, to use any part of the game for sale, trade, call for competition, or whatever, on a "free market" -- there's no "free market" for Mafia Wars in that sense that anybody else would have a right to freely access and use any aspect or part of the product, just like there's no such free market for any other copyrighted, non-open source product.

    Hell, yeah, and if it's Zynga's policy to opt for "gaming socialism", in order to keep the powers in the game balanced in a way, they have every right to do so. If anybody doen't like Zynga's policy, they're free to develop and market their own mobster game, and as long as it doesn't infringe on Zynga's copyright, they're free to incorporate any feature they like. THIS is the meaning of "free market".