What happens when these get-a-lifers have to find jobs, or merely get bored with the games that are consuming all their time and energy?
That's the perpetual threat facing Zynga, which is now in the position of having to crank out more titles to keep the simpletons amused. The problem is, many people think Zynga is sacrificing quality for speed to market. The company's latest offering, Hidden Chronicles, is a lazy ripoff of an existing game, according to Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, who writes:
Zynga has had time and money to make their game more polished than their competitors, but once again, it shows that the company refuses to innovate in any way, and is merely a follower when it comes to ideas and game design.
Of course, you can be a follower and still be successful merely by meeting the low expectations of your customers. The problem with that strategy is low expectations also can easily be met by competitors.
So what does this mean to potential Facebook investors? It means they must resist getting swept up by the hype and excitement over the "biggest IPO we've seen in years," as one analyst put it, and look at the numbers when Facebook files its S-1.
And what they'll see, if they read carefully, is that Facebook's alleged 800 million users are a mirage. Facebook defines "active users" as people who "have logged in during the past 30 days." Are they kidding? How many of those 800 million log in every day? That's an active user, not someone who logs in once a month.
Further, and I've been beating this drum for awhile, what's to stop heavy Facebook users from eventually burning out on the service or gravitating to another social networking site that is more attractive than Facebook in some way? It's hardly unprecedented (right, Myspace?).
Facebook's underwriters will do everything they can to stoke rabid interest in this IPO. They will tell you Facebook is the greatest, most promising, world-changing, dominating, profitable and enduring company in the history of the planet.
Great. Then Facebook should still be here a month after the IPO, when shares can be had a more reasonable price. At the very least, investors, remember that.