FarmVille Sheep Breeding Update: Prepare to be disappointed (again)

Over the weekend, we brought you the news of a series of bugs, or (at the very least) unannounced design changes in FarmVille's Sheep Breeding feature. Since Zynga turned off (and then turned back on) breeding with dotted, chameleon, and otherwise previously "illegal" sheep patterns, things have gone from bad to worse, with users reporting a very (emphasis on very) low amount of pattern inheritance from Rams, and an overwhelming amount of plain white sheep being bred regardless of the colors of the mother and father.

Up until today, Zynga had been relatively quiet on the matter, with Community Manager Lexilicious only briefly reminding users that pattern inheritance is never guaranteed. This afternoon, however, Lexi spoke out again, giving us a detailed statement on the current state of affairs with Sheep Breeding, the white sheep "bug," and the lack of patterns being passed down from Rams. You can find the most important bits of her statement behind the break, but I warn you - it's not pretty.

First and foremost, Zynga has gone on record as apologizing for the lack of in-game communication about the lowered rate of pattern inheritance. They are accepting the fact that users might feel "confused" and "frustrated," and are offering full refunds of the Farm Cash purchase price of any Ram or Ewe that you purchased under the assumption that the color/pattern inheritance rate was 100%. They are urging users to contact Zynga Customer Support, which will take care of the refund process. Of course, you won't get to keep the Ewe/Rams that you purchased, but you will receive your purchase price back in full.

That being said, the high inheritance rate (80-100% success) that many of us experienced since the beginning of the Sheep Breeding feature has now officially been labeled as a "bug," and has been lowered accordingly. Since Zynga didn't release the actual percentage of success for sheep, and since many users are having very, very low success after multiple attempts, it really throws that explanation into question, at least in my book. Could Zynga really have intended for the inheritance rate to be so low, knowing that it would annoy players, perhaps to the point of never purchasing Ewes and Rams, thus defeating the purpose?

The same can be said for the multitude of White Sheep that are being bred. Lexi again tries to confirm that this is a normal possibility as "white is a color," and it is possible to produce white sheep "when the feature is operating normally." She throws in a kicker to this however, that Zynga is aware of the white sheep issue with Chameleon Ewes and Rainbow Rams, and will be fixing those two animals "sometime this week."

All in all, there's not a whole lot of good news here. If you're a fan of the Rainbow Ram and the Chameleon Ewe, know that your White Sheep problem will be fixed shortly. However, for the issue of pattern inheritance, our progress has basically been squashed, unless you are lucky enough to receive an actual patterned Lamb with these much lower success rates. Isn't the entire point of Sheep Breeding to produce Lambs of different patterns, and not different colors? If all we wanted was a yellow sheep, we've seen those released in past Spring events. If we wanted a gray sheep, we'd just turn in our Shovels in the Storage Cellar for a Miner Sheep, which is gray.

No, the entire point, at least in my mind, definitely is the fun patterns that can be bred. But with these new changes, that Zynga is seemingly adamant about not changing back, the entire feature loses its allure, and for me, doesn't warrant any further purchases. It will be interesting to see how many users agree with me (apparently, a lot).

What do you think of these apparently final changes to Sheep Breeding? Do you think public outcry will be enough to make Zynga reverse all of their recent changes (sans unblocking the "hackers")? Or, did Sheep Breeding just become a rather useless feature? Sound off in the comments.
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