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Zynga is a company that produces social networking games. Social networking games are games that you are able to play with your friends online. These games seem innocent and fun at first, but they are part of an evil, insidious plot to gain your trust and your money, while alienating your friends, particularly the ones who don't play social networking games. At first, the game is easy to play and easy to level up. But then, around level 5 or so, you have to ask your friends for parts, or materials, in order to complete tasks, or to be your crew, or your neighbors, in order to level up. It seems like a free game, because you don't have to pay to start playing, so you think you are getting something for nothing, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Begging your friends constantly
The game gives you bonus points if you can talk one of your friends into playing who doesn't "like games". Good luck trying, 99% of the time you will be unsuccessful if like me, you have friends who are already established in their careers and spending what spare time they have on their family, and use social networking sites as a photo album/blog. Each Zynga game posts junk on your "wall" such as requests for game items, or various accomplishments in the game that nobody really cares about. Players that choose not to take advantage of this "feature" quickly find that they cannot progress past a certain level in the game. As a result, many of your friends who tried the game quickly drop out. One way to get around this is to buy special game currency with real-world cash. That's right, Zynga wants you to pester your friends or pay Zynga your hard-earned cash to keep playing. Each new task has more items required for it that you have to ask your friends for, so you have to keep paying to keep playing, or constantly beg your friends for stuff on a daily basis.
Lack of "Energy"
Some Zynga games are time-limited so if you want to keep on playing them the same day, you have to pay real-world cash. Here's how it works: The player starts the day with a certain amount of "energy". Once the energy is gone, the player must either watch an ad to get more energy, or beg one's friends for more energy, wait for the energy bar to refill (usually about 5 minutes or so to regain ONE energy point, which equates to one in-game action) or pay real-world cash to refill the energy bar immediately. That equates to about 15 or 20 more minutes of play, by the way, after which time the process repeats until you run out of money or patience.
Whenever a new Zynga game comes out, all the existing Zynga games will advertise the new game, offering limited-time in-game prizes just for trying the new Zynga game, and accomplishing some task in the new game (such as reaching a certain level). Soon, you will find that you are playing 20 or more games if you play long enough, just for trying all the cross-promoted games. And each game has its own new demands for your time, your friends, and your money. Soon all your time spent on social networking sites is spent playing Zynga's games, instead of enjoying your friends' real-world status updates and baby or pet photos.
In case you thought that Zynga had become your new Internet friend merely through your payment of dollars, you must be unaware of how very many dollars large corporations have paid for product placement. You might resent Samuel Jackson getting teary-eyed over the taste of Coke Zero with his co-star in his current movie, but at least you've come to expect ads there. Who knew that Flo, the lady from the Progressive Insurance ads, would nose into a social networking game? Happily, paid placements include ads to get a new credit card — so that you can purchase more Zynga currency with it. Your finances will soon only seem to be near balance if you count the Zynga dollars. The only relief from branded content is external ads, that either partially fill your energy bar or give you bonus items for watching them.
Zynga has become your new Internet friend, though — mostly in the sense of never knowing when to leave you alone. In case you hadn't paid Zynga your cash yet (or even if you had), Zynga's games almost always begin with a nag screen that makes a "special offer" on cash currency, so that you will be their subconscious slave and pay them real life dollars for virtual currency you cannot use anywhere else, nor ever get refunded. The nag screens are the key that differentiates Zynga games from boring shareware games, though you would think that, after paying for Zynga, you would have finished paying for Zynga.
Zynga games always ask for your email address, in order to spam you every day with "bonuses." As every car dealer knows: Who wouldn't want to know about our most recent Valuable Offer? But never, ever go on vacation, nor even forget to check your email for a while. You will find bonus offers from every Zynga game you have ever played — all of them already expired.
Recruiting Complete Strangers
When you have played a Zynga game long enough, you find that your real-life friends have moved on to other games, or just gotten busy enough in real life that they are no longer interested in the game. So what do you do? You go to the Zynga forums, and find a thread that reads "Add me please", or "Daily players wanted". You see that many people have gotten "Zynga friends" and friended complete strangers so that they can play with people who play their same games daily. You cave into peer pressure, and add your name and email to the list on the forum. After all, it is less guilt-inducing to bother complete strangers with game requests, especially if that is a known part of the game. Never mind that you do not know any of these people, you add them to your Facebook or MySpace, then swamp them with game requests as often as the game lets you. Unfortunately, no thanks to spammers, Facebook took away the feature to send a message with a friend request, so you do not know which game they are friending you for until you friend them and see them on the list of friends who play your Zynga game. Next thing you know, you have friended a stalker, a spammer, or an infected account that is really a virus.