If a player paid Zynga, say, four bucks so he or she can cheat in a game, most of us would shout that it's wrong. But if someone wanted to pay you the same to help them cheat in Word With Friends, would you do it? Well, I've never heard of anyone caught in the second situation, but the first example is already here.
Last month, Zynga added two paid features to Words With Friends that -- well, there's no getting around it -- were borderline cheat tools.
For the cost of 10 Tokens or roughly $1.50 USD, Tile Pile allowed players to see what letters remained in the hidden letters pile, while Word-O-Meter tells you whether you can get a better word with the tiles you've got if you're willing to cough up 32 Tokens or $4 USD. Neither of those prices are for one-time use either: Tile Pile allows for 10 uses and Word-O-Meter offers 99.
While outrage amongst mobile users have been loud and clear, usage of the Facebook version hasn't stopped soaring. I don't know how many people have opted to cheat, but there's no question that Zynga's making money off of it. And therein lies the problem, it's not so much the cheating that annoys people, but that Zynga wants to make money off of cheaters. Thereby, sending the message that cheating is OK. But there's something worse up ahead.
Even before the existence of Words With Friends, Scrabble clones were all over the web. Before the world got Facebook and Facebook got Scrabulous (which got shut down by Hasbro), I was playing something called Literati at Yahoo! Games. Cheating happened then, and it continues to happen now. You didn't need a cheat tool geared towards a specific game. Or one devoted to cheating. All you needed were websites that specialized in unscrambling letters, like an innocent anagram tool. This reality brings us to another point -- if people are going to cheat, they might as well do it for free. Because they can, they have, and they will. Not only that, some of the third-party paid cheat options out there aren't just cheaper than what Zynga has to offer, they're better too.
In light of all this, Zynga's strategy will only hurt their players, the integrity of the game, and ultimately themselves. As one player had put it, "I seriously doubt that loyal Scrabblers are going to be happy when they find out that the reason their friend has been winning lately is because he paid an extra $10 to have an advantage."
Are you going to love Words With Friends less, knowing that Zynga enables cheaters? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment