Struggling Zynga Lures Foodies to ChefVille with Real-Life Rewards

August 7, 2012 2:32 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Chefville (Photo: Game Screenshot)

It's been a rough week for Zynga. Amidst accusations that they ripped off The Sims with their Sims-like game The Ville that's marketed to people who like The Sims, as well as seriously anemic earnings for a company that was once the horse to bet on, the Facebook game creator most famous for its microtransactional system is doubling-down on a new way to make you feel like your IRL money is going to something: by giving you IRL rewards.

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That's right: Zynga's newest addition, Chefville, a game which allows you to run a virtual restaurant, brags that it offers you real-world prizes for completing virtual gaming tasks. As subscribers accomplish more and more feats in the game, they're able to unlock actual recipes that can be used for cooking up a storm in your kitchen. Players are also welcome to submit recipes to share.

It's a strange form of gamification, considering the fact that recipes are available for free on many an internet website, including this one. But as far as providing more incentive than just progressing in the game, it's sort of ingenious. It's in-keeping with the feel of the game, and it feels like a much-needed extra bonus to keep players happy and Zynga relevant. It shows that they can think outside the box.

And players are going to have to think outside of the box, too. The goal of the game, to come up with a compelling restaurant concept and source ingredients, is a little too twee for us to dismiss or resist. Ethically, we can't endorse any of our staff's restaurants, be they digital or IRL, but rest assured that my gastomolecular approach to soul food is about to "kill it." And by it, I mean time.

Till then, perhaps Zynga will apply this approach to their other games and give tips on city planning and farming. They may have to, considering they're coming under fire for alleged insider training.

Until WhiteCollarVille!

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