Mafia Wars 2 begs the question: Do Facebook games really need sequels?

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Mafia Wars 2 apparently isn't doing as well as it should be. Zynga insiders tell BusinessWeek that the sequel to Mafia Wars on Facebook is not meeting expectations after peaking in popularity shortly after launch (with 2.5 million daily players) and then taking a nosedive, losing 900K players in just over a month. Execs are purportedly pointing fingers in an attempt to figure out why this game is turning off players at such a rapid pace.

One of the most likely reasons? Mafia Wars 2 isn't different enough from the original game to keep people interested. The new game is, in essence, a 3D version of the original game, but the underlying game mechanics are largely the same. Michael Pachter, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities, agrees. From the article:

"The drop-off may stem from players becoming bored with the same old thing. "All the old Mafia Wars guys who finished everything you could do came over here and said, 'This is the same game with different missions.' They are already tired of it, so they are dropping off," Pachter says. "I think it's a good case study for what can go wrong."

It also begs the larger question -- do Facebook games really warrant sequels? Video games are a very sequel driven business, mostly due to the fact that game makers only get paid when someone drops $60 for a physical copy of a game. In Facebook games, players can spend money during the life of the game. Until recently, video games could not be augmented once it was in players' hands and Facebook games can be updated on a moment's notice. And, as it gets more difficult to market new Facebook games to players, there needs to be a seriously compelling reason to create a Facebook game sequel -- and, apparently, a slightly repackaged version of the original game just won't cut it.

> In Some Virtual Worlds, the Thrill Is Gone [Businessweek]

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