Mafia Wars from a Player's Perspective

Mafia Wars from a Player's Perspective

UnlockedMW for Mafia Wars is recommended by Mistyfied Mafia Wars.
Mafia Wars Toolbar

Search this Mafia Wars blog by typing your keywords below:

Monday, May 2, 2011

If I Was In Charge, by Rebecca Read

By Feature Contributor Rebecca Read

This thought seems to be crossing my mind more and more often lately. When I first started really getting into playing Mafia Wars I would think, 'Wow! I wish I owned this company'. Now it is more along the lines of ‘If I was in charge I’d be changing so many things to make it better’.

As with everything over time, it has evolved and changed, but to many players the Mafia Wars that many of us fell head over heels in love with (or at the very least, used to enjoy!) seems almost like a figment of the imagination. It is hard to remember a time where special 'events' were looked forward to. Holiday events anticipated, new cities and new properties welcomed and cheered for. Now everything that happens in the game is looked at with a sense of dread and frustration. Who can blame the players for leaving en masse?

At the heart of the game I try to remember that the company making it is still just that, a company. Like any other company in the world the bottom line is going to be profits. There is nothing wrong with that, except when the product and the customer suffer. When the product and the customer begin to suffer because of the business decisions made, the business will end up suffering as well. This can be plainly seen occurring with Zynga in the drop of the daily and monthly average users of Mafia Wars. With the drop in the DAU and MAU the ability for the company to produce revenue drops as well. If they were to be more customer-centric they would see a gradual rise in numbers. That is one of the major changes I would make if I were in charge.

According to many media sources, Zynga has recently hired a new possible COO, John Schappert, who left EA Games and immediately went to work for Zynga. Though it is not confirmed that Mr Schappert will be the new COO at Zynga, one can only assume that would be the case. I sincerely hope that with this new change in management at Zynga that along with it will come significant changes in how things are done around there. I for one look forward to seeing what will be happening in the coming weeks, and keep my fingers crossed that things will change for the positive rather than continue slipping into the negative.

As I see it, Zynga’s ability to have a collaborative relationship with their customer base has become practically non-existent; they have become disconnected from the very people they rely on, their game players. Through various practices, they have pushed the players away to arm’s length, fostered an environment of distrust and apathy, and continued to show how poor their communication skills are. If this were to be a company in any other industry, in any other medium, I wouldn’t be able to see it continue to be in business for much longer, unless they change the path they are currently following.

The customer is the foundation of the business, and without them the business will quickly die. As already mentioned, numbers are falling across the board for Zynga games, with Mafia Wars in particular suffering a sharp drop.

The other day I went to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website and looked to see if Zynga had anything there. What I found was interesting. Out of all the complaints the BBB received on Zynga, the number one most reported on issue was Zynga’s customer service. This included 154 'failures to provide promised assistance or support for their products or services' and 74 'failures to respond to phone calls or written requests'. I feel that Zynga has lost the ability to get through to all of their employess what honesty and integrity are, and the numbers at the BBB certainly reflect it.

So, the first changes I would make would be to Customer Support. Currently Zynga’s Customer Support is perceived by many as somewhat of a joke. But not a funny one. The messages given to the players differ even on the same issue, are at time outright lies or do not even deal with what is at the heart of the matter. No customer should feel like they are being given lip-service, lied to or ignored.

There should also be a clear escalation process within the department that, should a representative not be meeting the customer’s expectations, moves the issue up to the next person. Wherever possible, the "incident ticket" should stay with the same representative who would see it through or put it to the next level. It is not uncommon practice for each reply to be from a different CS rep, which reduces the consistency of what already feels like an inconsistent experience.

The next most significant change would be to listen to the customer feedback, and even change how that feedback is gathered and analyzed. Currently there are three routes to complain to Zynga. These are their Official Forums and Get Satisfaction. If you are unhappy with the game, all of these places can be utilized to air your grievance.

Customer support should be where you go when you need something fixed, the Forums for feedback. Right now most people are intimidated by the Forums, they are hard to navigate through, and figure out. Simplifying them would go a long way. The data collected from the comments in the forums should also make significant and noticeable differences in the game itself. Weekly meetings put in place where managers themselves go in and read the posts and understand the community’s cries for changes then work to correctly understand, communicate and implement those changes and when in doubt ask for clarification.

I could go on forever listing the things I would want to change if I were in charge. Of course, this would include events and cities and glitches but this is just in broader terms, because if you take care of the customer the customer will take care of you.

I just don’t understand why this company cannot see that.

So, if you were in charge at Zynga what would you do? Would you sell off Mafia Wars to a company that would be willing to commit to succeeding where you failed? Or is it not too late for Pincus and co. to turn things around?

No comments:

Post a Comment