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PopCap Games has angered virtual bakers on Facebook by deciding to shut the doors to its Baking Life app on Jan 31. Despite many users having spent real money buying virtual ‘Zip Cash’ to use in the game, PopCap says any remaining currency is non-transferable and non-refundable.
Baking Life currently attracts 730,000 monthly average users, and PopCap, which is owned by Electronic Arts, says that just isn’t enough. “The Baking Life player numbers have dropped in such a way that Baking Life is no longer performing well enough to justify continued support. As such, we are reallocating resources to games that we are developing for future release.” In its heyday, Baking Life was apparently pulling in 6.7 million monthly users, a figure that would make most Facebook developers blush.
Baking Life’s Facebook page has now lit up with players angry at the decision. One post says, “Electronic Arts has really destroyed a lot of wonderful Facebook games. They also bought Playfish and now if a game doesn’t get so many people that play every month, they just shut it down in the same manner they are doing with Baking Life.”
Understandably, the players who spent real cash on Baking Life are perhaps most upset at the decision. “You have a lot of nerve, I had the whole bakery completely enlarged and decorated. And I had several hundred thousand dollars. I spent alot of money on that game and don’t appreciate your handling of it,” reads one comment on Baking Life’s Facebook page.
The official Baking Life forum has also been swamped with angry users, with one saying, “Seriously, I’m really hacked off. … I have spent an obscene amount of money on this game, using Facebook credits etc only to be told it is no longer going to be available after the 31st January.”
The Baking Life virtual currency, called Zip Cash, is unique to the game and is available to buy in bundles ranging from 25 (costing $4.90) to 925 (costing $149.90). Virtual items can then be bought using this Zip Cash, with a ‘Triple Batch Oven’ costing the equivalent of $7.20.
Now that the game is closing, this Zip Cash is essentially worthless, and the Baking Life Facebook page says, “We encourage you to spend your remaining Zip Cash before January 31st. All virtual currency (Zip Cash) and virtual items will be lost after January 31st.” It points out that, “Any remaining Zip Cash (even if it was purchased and unused) is not transferable between or among different games or applications and is not redeemable for any sum of money or other monetary value.”
Rubbing further salt into the wound, there is now a link to a survey on the Baking Life Facebook page, asking for help in developing new games. One reply to this states, “How dare you ask any of us who were dedicated to playing Baking Life to vote in a survey to launch a new game to replace it.”
A lot of Baking Life players have had their fingers burned by the decision to shut the game down, and many are saying they will avoid any EA or PopCap published Facebook games in the future.