While Zynga has only released two new games since the beginning of this year, it has been making significant changes to its existing ones. FarmVille, the biggest, has been received several non-trivial updates and additions. The latest: a streamlined in-game gifting interface.
In the original version of FarmVille — as well as most other games currently on Facebook — gifting is done through user feeds. Social gaming companies find that setup advantageous, as getting a gift reminds users to play. But since getting their gift requires players to leave the game, putting gifts in the feed isn’t the best user interface choice.
The new gifting process is simple. In the upper right-hand corner of the app, there’s a small mail icon that shows how many gifts are waiting; with a click, the player can accept each one. Gifts will also pop up for players as they enter the game, and each interface gives players the chance to send a return gift.
FarmVille also chose last week to upgrade its neighbor request function, cutting out the Facebook interface in favor of its own better-looking invite box. And back in March, it added a comment box that allows users to directly communicate with each other in the game, though it remains far more like email than chat.
Some of the changes, including the new gifting interface, are interesting for the implication that Zynga is spending less time pestering users in their feeds, and more time on building a frictionless interface that may keep players happier in the long run.