FrontierVille's Missing Ribbons: Zynga oversight or Robbery on the Oregon Trail?
Zynga's FrontierVille was hit by a recent kerfuffle where a much needed item from the game -- Ribbons -- not only disappeared from the Free Gifts page, but it reappeared as a paid item at the in-game store! You can now find it under the "Special" section of the store, where the game is charging 4 Horseshoes, or 50 cents USD, for each one. That's akin to wagon train robbery considering how many Goals require the darn things.
Thread after thread after thread of concerned players brought up the issue in the official FrontierVille forums, where eventually, a Zynga moderator came in to explain that the ribbons were "taken off the list in error and will be back today (thursday in the US)."
Social Game Central published an editorial today, accusing Zynga of mistreating its players and that, while Zynga's got every right to monetize its games, this move of theirs has "crossed the line." For example, the author points out that the "Birthday Time!" Goal requires 4 Ribbons total to complete, so it might as well be renamed mission "Spend $2!"; while 91 Ribbons are needed for the School House Lessons (unlocked after the "Finding the Perfect Apple" Goal), which would cost nearly $45 USD if assembled with only bought Ribbons.
In Zynga's defense, premium copies of free items are always handy when you just don't have enough neighbors or friends playing, and you want an item quickly. But making something available for free and then taking it away, only to charge folks for it, is definitely not playing nice.
Update: According to one of our readers, as of 6:03 p.m. EST, Zynga has successfully returned the Ribbons to the Free Gifts page.