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Suskie Susquatch

Title: I don't know if this is funny or sad.
Posted: April 01, 2010 (11:01 PM)
Is anyone else following March Mayhem over at the Escapist? It's an annual tournament-style developers' showdown in which users vote on their favorite dev teams. It's just meant to be fun. Since it's just a popularity contest, no one typically takes it seriously.

This year, though, there's been quite a bit of commotion. For some reason, Zynga was included among the 64 developers. And they're winning.

You might not recognize the name, but you know their products, because you've ignored about a thousand invitations to FarmVille and Mafia Wars. They're the creators of Flash-based Facebook games, and since they've been rallying up their millions of fans to join the Escapist and vote for them, they've been steamrolling their competition. They've beaten NCSoft, Infinity Ward, Rockstar, and Square Enix in that order. They are currently up against Valve. And they are winning.

It begs an interesting question: Do these guys deserve to win? Most of the Escapist community is up in flames over the very inclusion of Zynga, and the fact that they've got a good shot at winning the whole competition is worrying to an awful lot of people. The most common criticism is that their products barely even qualify as games when compared to the titans they've been matched against. Others point out Zynga's history of scamming its users. Their defenders claim that it's telling that the amount of support their games have amassed eclipses that of an entire gaming community.

What do you all think? Personally, while I don't really care about March Mayhem itself, I'm quite intrigued by the uproar Zynga has caused on the Escapist. A lot of (otherwise presumably smart and courteous) Escapist users have been modded or banned over their comments left in the thread for Zynga's matches, and it really seems to be bringing out the worst in the community. Regardless of how much March Mayhem matters to me (i.e. not much), I can't deny that this year's tournament will be remembered as a disaster for the remainder of the contest's existence.

Honestly, I'd have had fun following the contest if it wasn't for the misstep of including Zynga. BioWare is currently beating out Blizzard in the other leg of the tournament, and a final matchup between BioWare and Valve would have been the most epic showdown ever. As it stands... meh.
[reply]

bloomerUser: bloomer
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (01:47 AM)
Well, it's kind of like they held a 'most popular fruit contest', except there has been a historical tradition of people only ever submiting oranges, and apples weren't even growing. Today, apples grow, are outrageously popular, and one entrant has submitted one.

If Escapist invited all fruit to the table, they can't really complain this year if the apple cleans up. All they can do, if they don't want the apples of casual gaming in their popularity contest next year, is rename the contest 'best orange contest'. It's in the nature of contests that this kind of thing happens occasionally and causes those involved to reevaluate the contest rules, so that said contest continues to produce an outcome that is satisfying to its traditional partakers.
[reply]

honestgamerUser: honestgamer
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (02:18 AM)
I was typing a long response and then the browser crashed and when I came back, bloomer had said everything that I would have said (and more eloquently), so I have nothing more to add except something that would simply elaborate on one of his points.
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SuskieUser: Suskie
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (07:30 AM)
I pretty much agree with that, although including Zynga was, from what I understand, the decision of one man. Like I said, though, the contest doesn't matter to me -- it's the relatively insane reaction from the community that I find fascinating.
[reply]

zigfriedUser: zigfried
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (12:16 PM)
Their games are more addictive than many commercial releases. They're a good value. They're easy to play whenever convenient. The complaint that their products barely count as games is ridiculous and not worth even discussing.

I see nothing wrong here, except perhaps for Zynga's efforts to encourage their facebook fans to vote for them (and that's only a problem if the Escapist website is bothered by the publicity, which is doubtful).

If someone wants to exclude them in the future, so be it, but they'll need* to do so in a consistent way such as:
1) free games don't count
2) online web games don't count
3) previous winners doesn't count

* by "need" I mean that people will whine if it's not consistent. If I were running the contest next year, I would just ban Zynga without any explanation or efforts at universal "fairness". It's a lot less trouble that way, and honestly that's also the way that makes the most people happy.

//Zig
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aschultzUser: aschultz
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (02:11 PM)
It's fun for the people who voted for the winning developers. And it's a lot more interesting than the GameFAQs character tourneys which feature Mario, Link, Cloud and Sephiroth in the final 4 every year, or something.

A tourney of 64 for sports blogs was lots of fun because it was based on blog hits, and FireJoeMorgan wound up winning despite being a 6-seed. That was exciting.

I hope this doesn't stop people from making another bracket next year, with better defined rules.

Still, the thread you linked to is very interesting. Obnoxious people make great points sometimes.
[reply]

SuskieUser: Suskie
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (04:57 PM)
Zig, I'm not defending anyone here, but I do think the general arguments against Zynga hold more wind than you're giving them credit for. Whether or not they make good games is totally up for debate, but just look at the companies they're up against. There's no way the efforts and achievements of the Zynga team can compare to those of Square Enix, Rockstar, and Valve.

Of course, maybe that doesn't matter. Zynga have certainly found a way to reach out to an extensive audience, and maybe that's a huge point in their favor. I think it's an interesting discussion topic, to be sure.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (04:58 PM)
Eh, whaddyagonna do? It's a popularity contest, as Bloomer so eloquently put it. If it was truly a contest to see who made THE BEST games... well, then you'd have to set some guidelines as to what qualified as a "good" game.

Since that's pretty much impossible, the best these tournaments can do is go for popularity votes. And ultimately, that doesn't mean anything except that Zynga can pull in more online votes than, say, Square Enix.

This is possibly because all the Zynga people are already online filling out senseless quizzes while Square Enix and Valve players are probably playing Square Enix or Valve games and are having too much fun to be bothered by a silly little contest like this.

But that's all conjecture. In the end, the whole thing is just another way for The Escapist to pull up their hit count and thus be able to sell more expensive ad space.
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zigfriedUser: zigfried
Title:
Posted: April 02, 2010 (09:41 PM)
I'd say Zynga has achieved a lot, and the results thus far support that. Effort? No, but unless I missed something, it's not a contest for who worked the hardest. If that were the criterion, then the entire tournament's results to date would look much different.

People can argue against Zynga, but any argument that relies on the notion that what they've created "barely even qualify as games" is absurd. Yes, such arguments can be made and even supported, but people may as well disqualify the RPG genre while they're at it. At their core, both come down to stat-crunching.

Basically you've got a lot of generally smart people making up one-sided reasons to justify their fanboyism, while clouding it behind the veil of "I'd be okay if my favorite company lost, as long as they lose to someone I respect".

//Zig
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randxianUser: randxian
Title:
Posted: April 03, 2010 (07:47 AM)
And it's a lot more interesting than the GameFAQs character tourneys which feature Mario, Link, Cloud and Sephiroth in the final 4 every year, or something.

You said it. I don't even know why they bother with the dumb thing instead of just going ahead and cutting it down to a tournament of four featuring the characters they just mentioned. I suppose sometimes Chrono makes it the Final Four instead of Cloud, but that's about the only difference.

About this tournament, keep in mind we don't have a realistic sample size voting. As you said Suskie, they are actively lobbying their fans to vote, while people like me who have never played those game have never even heard of this tournament until now. Therefore you have a bunch of people NOT voting on their favorite developers. If every single person who has played a video game knew about this and participated, it would be different. Otherwise, I think the whole thing is meaningless and nobody should really fret over it.

This is possibly because all the Zynga people are already online filling out senseless quizzes while Square Enix and Valve players are probably playing Square Enix or Valve games and are having too much fun to be bothered by a silly little contest like this.

Zipp just hit the nail on the head. The reason the "companies with more achievements are who have put forth more effort" are losing is because the fans of said companies are actually spending time playing the games instead of worrying about some random online poll.
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zigfriedUser: zigfried
Title:
Posted: April 03, 2010 (11:40 AM)
The reason the "companies with more achievements are who have put forth more effort" are losing is because the fans of said companies are actually spending time playing the games

That's not true in the least, but it sure sounds good!

EDIT: I am not pro-Zynga, but if Valve/etc had players who cared, they would take the few seconds required to vote. People are certainly spending time to make angry message board posts. When a developer can move people to action, that's a sign of strong influence -- saying that fans of other companies "are too busy playing the games" is a weak way to spin positive influence into a negative.

Someone could truthfully say "Most Valve fans aren't even aware of the contest" but then we could point out that the legions of Japanese Square fans probably aren't aware of it, either. I think we know who would win in a global popularity contest between those two.

//Zig
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randxianUser: randxian
Title:
Posted: April 03, 2010 (12:39 PM)
Someone could truthfully say "Most Valve fans aren't even aware of the contest" but then we could point out that the legions of Japanese Square fans probably aren't aware of it, either. I think we know who would win in a global popularity contest between those two.

That's the exact point I'm trying to make. I'm not trying to take anything from Zynga; I'm just stating that this poll isn't representing a true sample of the gaming population.

The only real beef I have is this company is actively getting its fans to vote, which is therefore distorting the sample size, which in turn is distorting the results.

And it's not that the fans don't care; if it's not advertised, how the hell are they supposed to know about it?

EDIT: I am not pro-Zynga,

Then why do all your posts so adamantly defend the company in question? All of your posts have amounted to basically saying the naysayers' points are stupid and Zynga clearly deserves to win this contest, regardless of more or less rigging the results by conning legions of their fans to vote on this stupid poll.

For someone who is not pro-Zynga, you sure can't prove it by me. Up above you acted like the fact Square-Enix has been around longer, produced more games, put more effort into their games, etc. meant absolutely nothing. I mean really, WTF?

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zigfriedUser: zigfried
Title:
Posted: April 03, 2010 (02:51 PM)
That's the exact point I'm trying to make. I'm not trying to take anything from Zynga; I'm just stating that this poll isn't representing a true sample of the gaming population.

I know -- you made a good point. But then you went and ended your post with this:

Zipp just hit the nail on the head. The reason the "companies with more achievements are who have put forth more effort" are losing is because the fans of said companies are actually spending time playing the games instead of worrying about some random online poll.

That's nonsense... and it's different from the point you were trying to make. First of all, it assumes that other companies have more achievements, which is totally up for debate. More importantly, there's a difference between not knowing about a poll versus "playing this game is so much fun that I'm not going to take a few seconds out of my life to vote online". The losing side in these popularity contests always says "WE'RE TOO BUSY PLAYING OUR GAMES". It's a tired argument. If Valve were winning, would people say "WE WON, BUT MAYBE THE OTHER SIDE WAS TOO BUSY PLAYING GAMES TO VOTE"? Of course not. They would gloat about winning.

On the other hand, your point about the contest not meaning anything because it doesn't really include everyone is sensible. Hence the silliness of this whole shebang.

The goofballs who are taking this stuff uber-seriously are giving the contest legitimacy and making Zynga look like they really are the awesomest shit around.

Me, I'd have voted for Atlus and/or FROM and then stopped voting once they got eliminated (Team Ninja without Itagaki isn't worth anything). Since I would not have voted for Zynga under any circumstance, how exactly could I be called pro-Zynga? Just because I acknowledged that they produce cheap, addictive, accessible online products, so maybe there's a reason they would be legitimately winning an online popularity contest?

EDIT: and again, effort is irrelevant in these things; what matters are which games are the most fun. Square does not put more effort into their games than groups like FROM and Atlus. Their products may have higher production values, but there's a difference between grueling passionate labor and money-fueled labor. But the reason I would vote for FROM and Atlus is because I enjoy the mechanics behind their games, not because of how hard I know they must have worked.

//Zig
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title:
Posted: April 04, 2010 (01:45 AM)
I was kind've being sarcastic, anyway. I don't REALLY think that Zwynga is winning because Valve gamers are too busy playing games to vote.

I do think that Zwynga probably has a more readily available player-base, one that's already pre-disposed to participating in these sort've contests and actually caring about them.

For instance, how many people here are voting in this Escapist tournament? And I think most of us consider ourselves fairly hardcore gamers.

It's just that maybe hardcore gamers don't care as much about these contests as casual gamers. That would make sense to me.

But, as I said before, it's all conjecture. And it doesn't change the fact that it's a popularity contest.

My REAL point was that such a contest means nothing and that these kind of voting contests never will.

Is Sephiroth a better character than Gordon Freeman because he beat him in the gamefaqs tournament? I don't think such a contest can answer this question.

All it says is that more Sephiroth fanboys voted this year than Gordon Freeman fanboys.
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