Zynga's Virtual Toys

People these days seem to spend money to buy... absolutely nothing.  I am referring to Zynga's online games that are found mostly on Facebook. 

If you've never heard of Zynga, perhaps the word "FarmVille" might sound a little more familiar.  Their games are successful because they tap into one of the three key elements of humans: greed.   You collect "something" and spend it to get "something else" in return.  However, they key difference from a classic game is that instead of limiting you by  skills and resources, Zynga introduces an artificial time limit that prevents you from collecting that "something" you need too often.

All of their games operate on that basic principal with some variation between each game type.   Zynga business plan feeds on human greed.  To get instant gratification, you can "refill" without waiting for the timer to reset by spending some real money.

Not too many people are silly enough to spend their hard earned cash, yet it happens.  Zynga reports that as much as 9% of the players are making purchases for the virtual goods.   The part that I think is strange is that it's perfectly legal to run a business where people spend money to buy absolutely nothing, yet it currently illegal to run your own lottery, or your own gambling website.  At least with gambling you have the possibly of getting something 'real' back in return.  With Zynga's business model, their is never any chance to get something back in return.

By editor on 17 September 2011 |