Here are my reasons why I think Mafia Wars is a bigger addiction than Farmville.
- Leveling up becomes pretty difficult after level 25. The max level player I saw in farmville was level 60 or so, and that was a paying player. On the other hand, I have completed more than 300 levels in mafia wars and I still can level up 4 times in a day.
- The real gameplay is really just planting crops and harvesting. All other activities (such as harvesting trees and animals) yield zero/little experience and little money. The motivation is to get more and more different type of items, and most of these items have nothing more than decorative value. On the other hand, all the mafia wars activities yield exp/money/items, and items have attack/defense value useful for fights.
- Maybe it was Zynga's brilliant move to monetize, but fuel limitation seriously hinders gameplay. That's Zynga's way of saying, this game is free only till level 25. No such apparent limitation in mafia wars.
- You can setup Farmville to play only once every 24/48/72 hours (by planting appropiate crops), but you can't do the same for mafia wars. That's where mafia wars is dangerously addictive. Farmville addiction can be cured by slowing down the game and ultimately leaving it, mafia wars addiction is much more difficult to cure.
- Farmville is slow to load. It took me almost 5 mins just to load the game everyday, and that was the primary reason why I stopped playing the game Just couldn't wait any longer.
Zygna has addressed some of these issues in recent times (after I stopped playing Farmville), such as useful buildings, one click harvesting, mystery gifts and giving out free fuel. But limited farmland and limited fuel capacity is still a major deterent.
So if mafia wars is so addictive, why is Farmville is no 1 game of the internet?
Here's why. The first time user to mafia wars will see all black screen with guns n illegal stuff, and all he needs to do is click "Do Job" again n again to gain exp. On the other hand, First time user to Farmville will see colorful plants on green soil and he has options to plant different crops. No prizes for guessing which one most users will like more.
You start liking Farmville immediately and slowly get bored of it. On the other hand, it takes you 10-20 level ups to start getting a hang of mafia wars (and getting used to it's graphics), and it starts getting addictive after you level up 50 times.