Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The failure of Ponzi

Everybody knows Facebook has games. One of them I've been playing is Ponzi. It's a fairly fun, fairly addictive game. The gameplay itself is simple: you set the employees of your company to doing jobs to earn money. You use the money to buy bigger offices and furnish rooms in them, and to hire more employees. You compete against your friends to see who can earn more money faster. It's fire-and-forget: once you set the jobs running you can go away and not come back until the jobs are done and you need to collect your money. Early on jobs take minutes to run, but fairly quickly you graduate to jobs that take an hour or two and then into the 5/10/15-hour jobs later in the game. So, while it's fun it's not going to eat up a lot of your time. And the competition is addictive. You start playing it, and pretty soon you're hooked and having fun. And after playing it for a few days, you'd find yourself thinking (as I did) that this is worth $10-15 easy.

And that's why it's closing down: because I'd only spend $15 on it. It's not big enough to justify my spending even $5 every month on it. And the addictive part comes from the competition with others. This game works only because it's networked. If I couldn't see how I was doing relative to my friends and interact with them in various ways (eg. send them a parade to brighten their day, or leave Mr. Dino snoozing on their lawn), it'd be dull as dirt. That networked aspect means central servers with their ongoing costs, but players aren't going to be willing to set up Yet Another Subscription and pay enough every month to be worth it.

So, R.I.P. Ponzi.

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