Hello there :)

Angela I'm Angela. I've been blogging on and off, but I've always been around. I like rambling about anything that strikes my fancy, be it personal endeavors, geeky pursuits, books I'm reading, writing attempts, occasional travel, and the games I play.

 

Yet another blunder (A TeamLava rant)

Sometimes, I really am dumbfounded with some gaming outfits. I suppose I’ve never really had an opinion of TeamLava specifically, though I have tried almost all their “-Story” games and have spent money on gems. I’m currently an active player of Bakery Story, and have started out on Farm Story as well. I’ve toyed with the idea of reviving my Restaurant Story game, which is the next-highest level TeamLava game I have.

The Chocoberry Cafe

I enjoy the games, although Bakery Story is the most interesting for me. My bakery is called the Chocoberry Cafe, and I bake according to a theme: if a recipe has chocolates and berries (of any kind) in it, I make it. This means I always juggle between recipes that have long cook times, but higher yields, and recipes that are quick but have lower yields (except for Brownies and Blueberry Muffins, because they are too quick and I can’t afford to babysit the cafe). Given the theme of my bakery, it’s fairly important to me to keep the food stocked up and displayed on the counters. After all, the food is the reason why my cafe is named “Chocoberry Cafe”. They are part of my “decoration”, if you will. So whenever a food item dips to less than 5,000 plates, I could be in danger of “losing” that item, which is something I’d rather not happen. (It also messes up with whatever arrangement I already have with the food items, since you don’t really have any control where the food gets served once you serve it.)

Yesterday morning, I saw a message on my wall from one of my neighbors, saying that she was gifting brownies now (instead of the “standard” cappuccinos) due to changes in the game, and that they are now the highest-profit items. Dumbfounded, I went and looked it up–and it’s true.

This isn’t Kansas anymore

As early as January 17, players have noticed the change and have put forward their thoughts and complaints. TeamLava has responded only to say that the change is “to ensure that the game is enjoyable as possible — not just for current players, but new players as well…to balance out the game”. Based on what I’ve read, the changes that have happened include:

  1. Normalizing selling price per food plate to 4 coins. This raises the profit for stuff like Brownies (initially selling for 1 coin per plate) and lowers it for stuff like Red Velvet Cake (initially 12 coins per plate, though I may be wrong–this used to be my biggest earner, though).
  2. Lowering yield per bake. I have no comparison data for this, but it’s been reported.
  3. Lowering cost of recipes to bake. This was communicated later on, but again, I have no comparison data.
  4. Blocking the door to stockpile food does not stop sales now; there have been reports that once you unblock the door, the food that you should have sold while you were stockpiling all gets sold immediately.

These changes make counters harder to stock, whether you’re a new or older player. I’ve noticed this myself, but shrugged it off initially and thought maybe I was just imagining things. Less yield means that if I try making an item that takes a number of hours to make, if my baker stays open the whole time, by the time I get to serve these new food items, there is nothing on the counter anymore. Empty counters at any point of the game means unhappy customers, and unhappy customers bring your popularity down, and popularity affects the number of customers coming into your bakery (lower than the measly 30-or-so customers we’re already getting). I have some stuff stocked from before the change (now selling at a loss, since they were baked with a higher-priced recipe than now, and selling for much lower), but new players don’t have the 16 appliances I have: how are you supposed to keep counters stocked with only a handful of ovens that you’re limited to due to your low level? Why, spend $4.99 to buy gems to add one extra appliance, of course! Worse, you can’t even block the door to stockpile, now. The only way I got through those lower levels was to stockpile. I don’t see how this change will help new players.

These changes make it slower to earn money. I used to spend a lot of bake time and coins to bake the ones with high yield and high profit, because I knew that once that batch sells, I will have reached a coin goal and I can get x item, or expand, etc. as opposed to waiting and waiting and waiting for my lower (therefore slower) items to sell. And yes, the recipes cost lower to make: but you bake more (and therefore spend more) in order to keep your counters stocked, so the point is moot. I’ve noticed it’s harder to earn money: it’s been a while but I’m having a hard time trying to break 2M (for my 4M goal, which I need to expand) when I need to keep baking to keep food items on counters.

Also, it removes the strategy element: if everything is normalized, then it doesn’t really matter what item you bake. I enjoy just making the food items that fit the theme of my bakery, but I want to make other items too, but right now, I can’t afford to do that (time-wise) because wait, my Chocolate Cake is getting dangerously low, I need to stock up on that first. So I just never end up making these other items. It becomes mindless, which kids probably don’t really care about, but as an adult, it was part of the draw of the game. If I wanted a mindless game, there are a lot of action arcade games made for the iPhone, on other consoles. I’ll go play that instead.

And an extra dash of salt to wound:

No warning nor formal announcement on these changes. They were just rolled out and it was the users themselves who noted it and started asking questions, who are understandably confused and worried if there was a bug. They have responded with an official statement after a while, but continue to largely ignore the strong user sentiments on the changes. And other people have noted that TeamLava’s wording–that they have “legions of super-passionate fans” sound almost insulting. I don’t think it’s wise for TeamLava to ignore these “legions” of “super-passionate” gamers that they are alienating. New users are great, but those who TeamLava might classify as “super-passionate” are the ones dropping significant hard-earned cash for the game.

A time for all things to end

I do like spending cash now and then on freemium games–I just did recently with Bakery Story. Paying for stuff like gems is good because it supports these smaller game houses and I like thinking that I’m doing my bit to keep them going. I stopped Bakery Story for a while, but then had my account ported over to my new phone just to be able to keep going. But this is unacceptable. Poor communication with the community and user base, shady decisions that doesn’t look like it’s going to change–I’m not going to continue supporting games by a company who does this.

I’ve been thinking it’s time for a break–and maybe it really is time to say goodbye to TeamLava and the Story series. Goodbye, Chocoberry Cafe and my beloved chocolate fountain.

  • Silver said:

    Well idk what to think about Team Lava anymore I play Home Design Story as well as Bakery and Farm and Restaurant Stories, I spend my hard earned money on Gems, I’m a very polite person and am fully aware of their Rules! So yesterday I go to remodel my house and a message pops up that says your account has been suspended due to offensive in game content! I was shocked and angry! I never cuss, nor Spam walls, all I post is Left Sparkles for you or Your House is Full of Sparkles. Neither of those are offensive! There’s not one word that’s bad! I was NOT given a reason nor do I know how long I’m banned. I’ve disputed the ban and Demanded to see the PROOF of me using offensive in game content. I do have ONE PLAYER that hates me because I refused to get in the middle of a argument between her & my sister, she hates my sister because she also wouldn’t take this grown woman’s side in another fight she started, Sorry my sister & I are in our 20′s we don’t fight with little kids and so we refused to Torment Children with this crazy beast of a woman. She SOMEHOW got my Sisters PERSONAL E MAIL ADDRESS and posted it in her wall for everyone to see, she then sends my sister almost 100 e mails with a 24 hour period and she’s also sending me messages via my sisters e mail. We DO NOT give out any Personal Info, this player has also been banned many times for causing drama yet she’s right back on the game an hour later so this leads me to think she has a BUDDY at Team Lava. She told me she was untouchable but that I was fixing to get touched and know it! I have proof of all this due to saving the e mails and taking screenshots, but why should I waste my time turning it in when she’s ” untouchable” I call BS on that & I don’t mean Bakery Story. By the time I hear back from TL my Ban will be over an unjustified ban I might add! What do I do?

    • I’m sorry this is happening to you, but by continuing to play the game you are basically condoning all of their questionable actions and saying that it’s okay. I would say leave the game, though it may not be an option for you.

      Hope things work out.

  • MizMash said:

    Interesting .. only just came back to bakery story about a week ago .. and was definitely thinking there must be a bug to this ‘I-can’t-stockpile-what-is-going-on’, yet alas. It’s just a sloppy update. *sigh* Thank you for calling them out.

  • If you thought those changes were bad, you should come back to see what else TL has decided to do. They’ve increased the gems needed from 24 to 49 for additional appliances. They’ve installed a computer neighbor that no one can delete. His name is Stormie and you cannot post on his wall. The only benefit of Stormie is that he will accept part requests. Most people think he’s a spy for TL. I know for a fact that TL was already recording player’s activities as well as posts well before the introduction of Stormie, so there’s no need for spying. Besides, spying is better achieved when the target doesn’t know he is being spied upon. I have also been a victim of harassment (which seems to be more common now than it was a year ago) and TL has suspended me more than they have my harassers! It is still going on as I speak. When I reported the harassment, TL simply removed the harassers posts from everyone’s wall. The harasser did not get suspended nor banned. It has been going on since early June. My neighbor has been campaigning for the block button & was suspended for doing that. It would be great if you could leave her block button to do list (see website link) here so more players can see it and hopefully force TL to change their unethical practices.
    Thank you.

    • Alan replied;

      Lmao-you got harassed in a baking game?!? I’d love to know the details of that! Seriously, I play a few of these types of games, and no one, I mean NO ONE can do or say anything to make me reset, or stop play or complain. If the gameplay changes in a way that I don’t like, I put the game down for a day or so. Then I’m right back in the swing of things. Not knowing much about TeamLava, but a bit about business, I’d say TL runs lean as far as manpower goes, probably more temps than permanent staff. This can cause issues, but should work itself straight over time. Who knows how long is anybody’s guess, but depends on the management team. They depend on that 2.99 or 4.99 for eggs, gems, points, what-have-you. It’s the teams job to squeeze those dollars out. Want to see game play improve? Spend the money you’d normally spend on a cappuccino half/caff light foam diet grande on your in-game currency. And have your neighbors, allies or whatever do the same.

      • I play a few of these types of games, and no one, I mean NO ONE can do or say anything to make me reset, or stop play or complain. … Want to see game play improve? Spend the money you’d normally spend on a cappuccino half/caff light foam diet grande on your in-game currency.

        Obviously not the person you are responding to, but I wouldn’t encourage that sort of behavior. I’m someone who does pay for in-game currency in casual games that I am playing. I’ve spent a lot of money on TeamLava as well in the past, and I would have continued to do so if they hadn’t pulled such really bad decisions and look like they continue to do so. For example, from my blog post:

        How are you supposed to keep counters stocked with only a handful of ovens that you’re limited to due to your low level? Why, spend $4.99 to buy gems to add one extra appliance, of course! Worse, you can’t even block the door to stockpile, now.

        That to me is unnecessary baiting. A game like this does depend on people spending money on in-game currency, but forcing people to buy something or else they CANNOT enjoy the game is something I just can’t condone. Ignoring the user base’s opinions is another thing that’s turned me off from TeamLava. I don’t expect them to respond to every complaint, but to see a lot of people airing their opinions and then the company goes around and does the exact opposite–doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence in the outfit.

        To be clear, I’m all for supporting your favorite games by paying for in-game items, but just because you in particular are happy with your game does not mean others are, and in that sense I wouldn’t tell them to pay for something they do not enjoy.

  • Michael said:

    TeamLava LLC is a Joke. There costumer service is the worst from a public company that I have ever seen. If you really want to no where they are and who runs the show here is the information you really need.
    They will tell you they are not allowed to give out anybody’s contact information for security reasons. The real reason is they do what they want ,when they want and don’t care because you can not complain about them to anyone so they think. If you go to teamlava for help they will just suspend you so they do not have to deal whit the problem, Now that is crazy & I do not play there games. Face book will get smart and let another gaming company in and that will be the end of TeamLava. They think they are untouchable “there Words” I don’t no where they think they live but they may not have noticed they are in the UNITED STATES. The BBB has a rating system from AAA+ to & F. Team lava LLC for customer service is a D go look for yourself. I wish I new more about computers because I would give everyone this information. This is who they should contact other then Team lava because they are a joke. You want to complain go to the top and here is the address and phone numbers for the CEO of the company.
    Customer Support Representative
    San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA

    Teamlava LLC
    1000 Bridge Parkway Suite 110, Redwood City, CA 94065
    CEO Perry Tam
    VP ENG David Lundberg
    VP SALES Paul Malmquist
    VP CORP ST Ted Malone
    3 Twin Dolphin Dr Ste 160

    Redwood City, CA 94065 Direct Dial (650)596-8600

  • Chantelle said:

    I was a “super-passionate” gamer, threw down close to 2 grand on Fashion Story. Then when a few of us Super Spenders tried to get equal gem sales, equal updates for everyone buy posting our opinions on our walls, we got banned. Seems TeamLava also doesn’t believe Freedom of Speech. Horrible Company, Horrible Customer Service. Please beware gamers!

    • Thanks for that! I’d been wondering if maybe I can check how things have gone, and start playing again. But looks like TL hasn’t changed–and I’m not about to give them ANY engagement otherwise.

  • Hehe! Just because I like your font. :p

    Seriously, I think someone should send them reviews like this para alam nila that it’s not JUST a complaint but a serious evaluation.

    Anyway, I’ve installed the game pero haven’t gotten around to playing it. Hehe! Maybe buti na that I don’t at all? :p