There comes a time while playing any Zynga game on Facebook for the first time, when the playing must stop… unless you want to ask friends for more “energy” so you can play, or unless you want to pay.
I’ve learned to just wait. There is fun to be had in Zynga games and you really can just wait to get it. But I think it’d be instructive to track a major new Facebook game to see just how long it takes before you have to wait… or pay. And you know you can’t play a Zynga game without asking some friends for helps. How long do you think this new game of shootouts, strip clubs and growhouses takes for that?
I ran a stopwatch on Mafia Wars 2
0:00… I begin playing the game.
1:22… I have watched the game’s intro movie, picked the gender of my gangster protagonist, selected the design of his first casino and named it… Stephen’s Crappy Casino. The game invites me to share this news with friends. I decline. (Pictured here: my Crappy Casino)
2:43…The game suggests I invite some friends to play, in far less time than it would take for me to decide if the game is any good. I decline.
5:02… I level up for the first time. The game invites me to share this news with friends. I decline.
6:20… I level up again and learn that I can upgrade the gun shop I just built if I invite a few friends to staff it. I may just do that, but, for now, I decline.
8:30 … I go to the casino district, as instructed, and gun down a crime boss using a few clicks of my mouse. I can tell there’s some match going on in the background that could lead to some interesting tactical variation in gunfights. But for now it’s a cinch. The boss is dead and the game suggest I share the good news with friends. I decline.
11:13… I go to the Boneyard to experience the game’s interesting quasi-multiplayer combat (you fight against the characters of other non-friend players, but those characters are controlled by the computer while you fight them. I kill several characters, complete a mission and am soon encouraged to round up a crew (of Facebook friends). I decline.
12:18… I level up again.
19:18… I build a growhouse, so I can make money selling marijuana, I guess (they’re not that explicit about what you’re growing). I hire a guy to run a scam card game. Then the game asks me to share the news and share some rewards. I decline
21:02… Yes, this is a social game, so sure you should find a way to play it with friends. I’m just not ready yet…
21:03…I learn that I’ll have to publicly ask for help from 10 Facebook friends to start a strip club. Or I can just pay in bars of gold. I have enough but decide not to yet.
23:30… Back on Casino Row, I find out that I can go rob a casino with friends. I’d have to invite friends, naturally. Not now.
29:45… I’m in a boss battle.
29:46… I die a couple of times and restore my hearts (note that I’ve yet to say that I’ve run out of energy… that’s because early actions don’t consume a lot of energy, early missions reward with a bunch of it and you are replenished to full energy every time you level up). Here I am without hearts. I’m not dead. I can come back, with the help of friends or by paying with in-game money. In-game money it is.
34:17…Got past some story stuff, had to go to a new area to find some money. Killed a guy. Was asked to invite friends. The request seemed random this time. I still didn’t know if I liked the game to proselytise it enough. I declined.
39:30… And it finally happened. After shaking down some people, collecting some money, hiring a drug dealer and then trying to collect from him, I ran out of energy.
I could have paid to get more energy, or I could have waited. (I did. That was five hours ago and what do you know? My energy is full again. Perhaps I’ll go play some more… )