Sunday Soapbox: Pop-Up Edition

How many pop-ups is too many pop-ups? Shouldn’t there be a more reasonable cap on pop-up notifications, so players can get busy playing (and spending money, for that matter)? Log-in interruptions are particularly bothersome in my opinion, but some games are offering smoother entry these days, so I’ll just assume that’s been noted and move along…

Beyond logging in, when you finally do get to tend to your social game goings-on, it seems like there’s a pop-up every 3-4 clicks. I have hundreds of trees on my farm, and if I want to harvest them all one-by-one, I should be able to without having an annoying pop-up in my face after every 4 trees!

No – I don’t want to send free gifts to my neighbors right now. If I did, I’d click on that enormous Gifts tab staring me in the upper eye. No – I don’t want to check out the new virtual items. If I do, I’ll go to the store.

For games with such simple play mechanics, it just seems downright unreasonable to interrupt the only real “gameplay” you offer. It’s almost like you’re playing a FPS (think Halo or Call of Duty), and the developers randomly throw a pop-up notification during an important battle sequence. Sure, social game pop-ups aren’t going to leave any casualties, but they still disrupt my gameplay experience all the same.

My humble suggestion? Change the gameplay for more experienced players so they don’t have to deal with an entry-level info dump every session. We know already.

Even outside the game – I guess I mistakenly thought the Facebook Games tab reorganization would eliminate news feed notification noise. Nope. Time to revisit the news feed rant…

Have we crossed the line between social and spam yet? Facebook game notices in your news feed are like the new high-tech pocket protector – sure to repel friends at every sighting. I like playing, but not so much that I’m willing to alienate my friends who don’t care that I found free fuel on the farm today. Some people create dummy Facebook accounts to conduct their social gaming (and not to annoy friends), but that’s not even technically allowed in the site’s TOS.

What’s a rule-abiding user to do? I don’t know the answer, but I do hope social game developers can overcome this tightrope before players give up the balancing act and jump off for good. Being a geek is one thing, but being a social network spammer is totally uncool.

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