ChefVille Aftertaste: Timed quests can only lead to bad things

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I'll be the first one to admit that I complain a lot about ChefVille, but in the many years that I've been playing Facebook games, I've seen games come and games go, even within Zynga's own catalog (take, for instance, the many games we've lost just this winter). When it comes to smaller games, their removal from Facebook may simply be due to a lack of resources to keep them going since they never gained a lot of users to begin with. In the case of Zynga's games though, most of them follow a few simple trends that turn each experience into more work than play. One of the worst trends is the introduction of timed quests, which ChefVille just so happens to have a ton of now.

Over the past few months, we've seen timed events and quests that have limits ranging from a few days to a few weeks, and while larger themed events like the Halloween or Christmas features have time limits that at least allow players to finish those tasks without too much stress, some quests like the Sushi Master quests are almost impossible for someone that doesn't spend all day tending their restaurants. Why is this the case? Obviously, the more stressed a player becomes about finishing something on time, the more likely it is that they'll pay real money to complete the tasks that they wouldn't be able to complete otherwise.

This is a fine theory from a business standpoint, but at the same time, placing players into a situation where they feel they have no way out other than paying real money will cause more players to give up than actually open their wallets, as many refuse to pay to play Facebook games at all. One could argue that those non-paying players don't matter, since they'll never pay money regardless of the event or opportunity, so Zynga shouldn't be building the game around them. Perhaps that's true, but this goes one step farther than that. For every non-paying player that leaves the game, those remaining dedicated or even paying players have a tougher time completing their own events, since they have one less person to spam with constant requests for building materials and ingredients.

As paying players have a harder time completing their own tasks, they might initially support the game by continuing to spend Chef Cash (ie: real money) to make progress, but eventually, everyone has a breaking point. How many timed quests do players have to fail (or pay to finish) before we all realize that the virtual statue or few extra ingredients just aren't worth the hassle or money? Don't get me wrong - there's still plenty of fun to be had in ChefVille for those that have the free time necessary to complete the game's many timed quests, but what of everyone else? I've already lost quite a few non-paying players as neighbors due to these timed quests (among other issues), but how many more will we all lose before something changes? Timed quests may initially be great for Zynga's pocketbook, but I can't see them being anything but a negative for players in the long term.

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Have you stopped playing any Facebook games because of timed quests? Do you have trouble finishing the timed quests released in ChefVille each week? Sound off in the comments!
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