Turns out I'm not the only one on the verge of needing an intervention. According to Neil Young, CEO of ngmoco, they are up to thirty MILLION minutes of playing time every DAY. This is up from the 20 million stated for April of this year. This would explain why my personal minutes of use vary widely: with that many people on every day, you need ten more servers than you actually have. ALL the time. And now I know why my crops keep going bad. My back-of-the-envelope math tells me that is something like eleventy squillion people (give or take) on the Plus+ network at any point, raising puppies or ordering rehabilitated criminals or flinging followers around a planet.
I admit, I'm a little suspicious of the statements from Mister Young, because he has no numbers to back them up. Well, he might have them, but he isn't divulging any. Currently the only social gaming platform handing out hard data is OpenFeint, who recently announced they have 25 million devices on their network. According to Young, there are way more UDIDs on their network than anybody else's. How many more? The world may never know.
These sorts of things matter a lot more now that the new kid on the block is the same company that made the phone itself. Apple's imminent Game Center platform is causing some commotion among existing social gaming providers. But it doesn't seem likely that any existing platforms are going anywhere, leaving Apple customers in a rare position: you get to make a choice!
Thanks to the current NDA, we don't have a whole lot of info about the new network from Apple, but it doesn't seem to bother Young at all. He's quoted as saying nobody else is operating at their scale. I'd like to believe that, but I still have this hangup about hard facts, and until I get any it's hard to take him seriously. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Pineapple that needs harvesting...