ChefVille Aftertaste: What can Zynga learn from the first six months?


ChefVille is almost six months old, and while many of Zynga's games have lasted for years (just look at FarmVille and CityVille), we thought it would be a great time to look back at the beginnings of this still-young experience and examine what has worked and what hasn't in Zynga's second attempt at a cooking game. ChefVille has had plenty of highs and lows throughout this six month period, but does the game still have enough charm to push forward for another six months and beyond?

For at least a month after ChefVille launched, dedicated players were quickly running through every quest, ingredient stall and appliance released, earning dozens of mastery stars and expanding just as soon as something new become available. Unlike many Zynga games, ChefVille actually had far too little content to remain entertaining, and we even began to wonder if there was something wrong with the game behind the scenes.

Skip forward a few weeks, and we saw the game really start to take off via its first major cross-promotion with Food Network's Restaurant Impossible. From there, themed quest series started launching for holidays, and more promotions were released for Jamie Oliver, Real California Dairy and even Bounty Paper Towels. There's no doubt about it now: ChefVille is a big player in Zynga's Facebook catalog, but has the switch from no content to too much actually done more harm than good?

Many players, myself included, would argue that Zynga releases far too many things in ChefVille without taking a break in between. If the game's many quests and events weren't so strictly timed, players would be able to complete features more casually, but at the same time, those same players would, in theory, also never feel "stressed" enough to purchase Chef Cash to finish things off.

This isn't to say that the content Zynga releases is bad (with the only exception being the unnecessary Catering feature) - just that it's being added to the game too quickly. Whether it's a massive sushi event or a breakfast themed event for New Year's, ChefVille now has themes for plenty of kinds of food for almost every meal of the day (aside from perhaps dessert). The variety and sheer amount of cooking stalls are mostly fun to build, as it's interesting to see the combinations of ingredients that create some of the game's dishes. What's more, some dishes come with real-world recipes allowing fans to eat these dishes back in the real world too. There's plenty within ChefVille that "works," but there might be even more that doesn't.

With almost six months behind them, the ChefVille team at Zynga should have learned a few valuable lessons by now: keep giving players lots of variety in terms of dishes, appliances and even quest events, but please lessen the amount of timed content that causes players to rip their hair out in frustration. Will Zynga strike a better balance between the good and the bad in ChefVille's next six months on Facebook? One can only hope, but in the meantime, let us know your overall opinion on ChefVille in the poll below!

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Do you have an answer to the poll that isn't listed above? Do you want to share your thoughts on ChefVille with your fellow players? Let us know what you think about the game's first six months in the comments below!