Tag Archives: Mafia Wars

Zynga Invades the 7-11 on My Block

I’ve been plenty busy lately (and thus blog-free for a while now) thanks to a new job with a game company here in New York City. But when I saw that Zynga was entering a partnership with 7-11 to promote its games, I knew I couldn’t escape Zynga’s grasp in my off-line world for long: They invaded the 7-11 around the corner from me.

Yes, there is the Slurpee machine:

The Big Gulp machine:

Those both had Iron Man 2 branding till earlier today. But the integration goes across even more food items – a whole “Fresh Goodies from FarmVille” section:

Complete with sandwiches and fruit tagging:


Even the farm-rased tuna: zynga-711-sandwich2

So you can see the breadth of items. And each type of item is redeemable for in-game goodies. Here is the list.

One example – buy a Big Gulp, get a special FarmVille “Big Splash” item:



When you’re Zynga and you’ve exhauseted the audience on Facebook (or at least the ones you can acquire cheaply on Facebook), this is how you get brand awareness and entice installs for those not regularly on Facebook.

And on the flip-side, Zynga brings its addicted players to 7-11, getting them to go through hoops to unlock UberGifts. First you need to buy up to eight items at 7-11, each one filling out the punch-card at the top:


Following this, they will also have to do a specific in-game task:

zynga-711-slurpeeUsers need to achieve Level 3 Mastery of a special crop in FarmVille, which seems a lot harder than doing 41 jobs and winning 10 fights in Mafia Wars (and actually no in-game task for YoVille). While these seem skewed, they actually seem to match the value of the UberGift unlocked in each game: 200 FarmVille cash, 50 Reward Points for Mafia Wars, and a Slurpee Machine for your YoVille pad.

All-in-all, it seems like a good win-win for both Zynga and 7-11 and likely has been in the works for some time (what, no Treasure Isle tie-ins? Maybe that’s next summer), probably a natural extension of their initial deal to get Zynga cards on 7-11 racks.

How telling is it that Zynga has done more big distribution deals (7-11, Yahoo and MSN Games) than game releases (the tepid PokerBlitz and mega-hit Treasure Isle) this year? The Zynga machine has figured out how to extract the maximum eyeballs on the Facebook platform, now it looks like we’ll be watching them figure out how to do it offline as well.

FarmVille Horse Stable Promo Replicated for Other Zynga Hits

How can you tell when a viral marketing program is working well? When Zynga spreads it to several of their top games. Last week we noted that the horse stable promotion helped drive FarmVille over 30 million Daily Active Users soon after it was launched because it promoted its heavy and hard core users to proactively request gifts from friends to complete the building.

Now the same concept has spread to Cafe World and Mafia Wars. In Cafe World, users must collect shelves, jars and lids to create a spice rack:


In Mafia Wars, as part of the revamping of the way properties work in the core New York chapter, users have to collect blocks, car lifts and other material to create the chop shop:


So are they providing the same daily active user punch that the horse stable did for FarmVille? So far they aren’t, but to be fair these just launched late last week and the Facebook-reported DAU numbers have been sporadic of late.

Can Users Find Their Games in the New Facebook Homepage?

So two weeks after slowly dripping out of the recent Facebook homepage redesign, one indicator that users still don’t know where to find things (like games) is the number of developers spending time educating users how to find the Game Dashboard:


In general, while the creation of the Games Dashboard at least acknowledged the importance of games in the day-to-day usage of the Facebook platform, Facebook didn’t bother publicizing the games dashboard during the rollout.

So far I haven’t been able to discern a noticeable decline across all developers, as some games were already declining from December platform changes and there were a good deal of promotions (e.g. various Valentines promos and horse stable promotion on FarmVille) that may have masked the impact of the redesign. That said, one example where it does seem to have had an effect is Playdom:


While bookmarks weren’t always leveraged by users, they were persistent and did provide a very convenient way for a user to get to their favorite application consistently. Now to get to the games dashboard, you must continually navigate back to the homepage to find the link. I firmly believe the games dashboard is a huge improvement, providing the potential to discover new games and find your existing ones. But further education cannot overcome the fundamental design flaw of not having “games” as a persistent part of the site navigation, visible from every page. There seems to be some ample space in that blue navigation bar at the top: a simple Games link there could be a benefit for the entire ecosystem.

What About the Power User?

One other side note is that I missed in assessing the homepage redesign initially is that the ability to filter the news feed has been removed: You can choose only to see the Top News or Most Recent news. In the past, there was a way to filter the news feed by leveraging categories in the left navigation, such as user-defined “Family” or network groups, but also by games (a FarmVille power user could select FarmVille and see all their friends’ posts).

One has to wonder if that feature has hurt some of the bigger games, as power users in the past could use that feature to connect with friends (and keep them reinforcing the circle of sending requests and gifts to each other). Now the only way power users can get that feature is to go to FarmVille.com, which has that filtered news feed prominently right below the game.

Update 2/20/2010:Kudos to the product team at Cafe World to take the initiative, being one of the first apps to actually share the Cafe World-specific filter and help their power users find their neighbors’ posts: