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Plugged In

Players Say ‘Meh’ to Mafia Wars 2

Plugged In

By Claudine Zap, Yahoo! Buzz Log

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Mafia Wars 2 (Zynga)

Mafia Wars 2 has been losing friends on Facebook: The social-gaming sequel to the popular original Mafia Wars has taken a nosedive of 900,000 players in the last month, from a peak of 2.5 million in October, when it was introduced.

Searches on Yahoo! for the social media game took a similar plunge from October to November.

For those who don't spend all their time playing Facebook games, the original Mafia Wars is a multiplayer game where players build their own crime syndicate and fight online gang wars. The game is free, but like Farmville, gamers can buy their way through the game with micropayments to improve their stats. As of July 2011, the game had 8 million players.

Gaming blogs suggested some ideas for why the numbers for the new game had gone negative. IGN's blog noted that the popularity of games on social networks is also its downfall: Zynga had introduced so many games that it was forced to compete against itself. "The decline may be due in part to the steady rise of social gaming, which has people playing more games, meaning they're spending less time in each."

Businessweek adds that for the social-gaming company to stand out, it's got to spend money.

"Zynga and others spend several million dollars developing titles and millions more marketing them, which increasingly puts a squeeze on profit margins. And hits are harder to come by."

Translation: Zynga can be a tad annoying. The company generates a steady stream of invitations and updates that bombard Facebook users -- and may actually be driving some customers away instead of bringing them in. As one commenter noted on IGN with the launch of new Zynga games, "Nice, even more Spam machines masked as games for people who don't like video games."

So is a sequel even really necessary? Games.com doesn't think so. "Mafia Wars 2 isn't different enough from the original game to keep people interested. The new game is, in essence, a 3D version of the original game, but the underlying game mechanics are largely the same."

If that's the case, it didn't take players long to realize it. Farmville, anyone?

By Claudine Zapp, Yahoo! Buzz Log

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