As of June 1st, 2010, Casual Game Developer Zynga allied with store chain 7-11 to get loyal casual gamers to gain exclusive virtual items for games like Mafia Wars, YoVille, and FarmVille just for purchasing-and possibly eating-some convenience store food. As a devout Mafia Wars player who considers 7-11 food to be food as one considers banging a hammer against his/her own head to be entertainment, the alliance felt odd. Nevertheless, the collector in me decided to hit 7-11 hoping to expand my virtual inventory without expanding my actual waistline.
Since I do not play YoVille or FarmVille, my main targets for the duration of the promotion were the Mafia Wars goods. The goal of Mafia Wars inventory is to equip each of your virtual mafia family with weapons, armor, and vehicles. Each item has a corresponding attack and defense value and the higher the number of either, the more effective the family fights. It appears that seven 7-11 items qualify for the Mafia Wars promotion based on the distribution poster:
Bag of 7-11 Chips: Palermo Prowler Vehicle 44A/19D
Giant Slurpee: Showman Gun 46A/27D
Hot Dog/Pizza/Larger Food Item: Sleek Bulletproof Vest Armor 45A/23D
Taquito/Rolled Food: Pepper Shaker Gun 31A/45D
Super Big Gulp: Trio Diva Vehicle 25A/45D
Zynga Mafia Wars Card: Combat Helmet Armor 22A/46D
Coffee: Lone Wolf Gun 44A/30D
Statistics-wise, the items are above average compared to the ones in the inventory and more powerful items are available in the in-game marketplace or loot drops. But that darn obsessive need to collect “exclusive” items does make those appealing to get at least one of each if only to show off rather than actually use during fights. And since duplicates of these items are allowed, players are only limited by their taste for coffee, hot dogs, or other food items. I personally like the Sleek Bulletproof Vest and Showman.
My first visit to a 7-11 during the promotion was a huge letdown. It was the second day of the promotion but the clerk had obviously ignored it and had none of the special edition items on his racks or code stickers affixed to the items. Despite plastering a few Zynga promotional posters on his walls and windows, the clerk only revealed a shrug when further asked about the Zynga-promoted items. The second store I tried gave me codes for everything but the coffee and card. I tried texting the code, but wound up wasting the code since there was no way to associate the phone to my Mafia Wars account.
Ready to ditch the Combat Helmet since I was not willing to spend $10 for an item with average stats, I redeemed the rest of my codes at the Buy Earn Play website and discovered just how insidious Zynga and 7-11 really are in this promotion. It seems I have to buy about seven different Zynga branded items spanning all three games and undertake one quest from one of those games in order to unlock “uber” awards for all three games even if I only play one game. It makes the collecting addictive and becomes a gateway drug into those other casual games. The quest in Mafia Wars was simple enough (Fight and perform jobs to locate seven convenience store food items in order to gain another exclusive in-game item) but I will be buggered with a fish fork if I have to harvest crops or build a virtual house just to satisfy the game’s conditions.
Then again, those 50 Skill Points are valuable. And that Slurpee machine would look good in YoVille.