hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

FarmVille: revenue, inspiration and imitation

4:40 PM on 03.01.2010 // Brad Nicholson

As social games become more and more accepted, and the base continues to grow and grow, I decided it was time to start asking some Facebook developers about the platform. This is the first article in a weeklong series that examines multiple angles: the division between social and hardcore, big publisher invasion, the necessity of notifications, and social games' future.

This week we're taking a look at the Facebook platform. One of the three developers I spoke with was Zynga Games, creators of the wildly successful FarmVille.

FarmVille a sim in the style of Harvest Moon -- minus the fat. You won’t find yourself giving eggs to the librarian in hopes of scoring a child or tickling Pixies for golden tools. No, FarmVille is a real-time game that has you planting crops and immediately selling them in order to get access to more profitable crops and cute decorations. It's never-ending, addictive, and a huge source of revenue for Zynga.

This revenue is not produced solely by ads, but real money from players in exchange for items. These range from the mundane to game breaking -- in the sense that they don't follow the base rule set -- and are used to simply get ahead and defeat foes' Leaderboard scores.

Think iron-clad Hoplite with a birdshot-loaded shotgun staring down a throbbing mass of axe- and stick-armed Persians and you’ll get the idea of the advantage of some of these items. If you still don't picture it, then read up on the $40 "Wither Ring," a promotional item that stops crop rot -- the penalty for not being mindful of what's growing.

Regardless of its "pay to get ahead" free-to-play model, FarmVille has over tens of millions of players. It's an important game for Zynga in terms of the money it brings in, but it has also proved to be something of a petri dish.

"FarmVille is very important," Bill Mooney, VP and GM, FarmVille at Zynga told me via e-mail. "It is not only the most popular social game, it’s also the #1 app on Facebook with over 70 million people playing the game around the world every month. FarmVille has also been key in the discovery of great game mechanics that we are incorporating into existing and future games."

But it’s a petri dish with imitators -- clones. Zynga Games is aware, almost flattered by the amount of developers attempting to cash in on their formula. They use it as initiative to keep building.

"We see [imitations] as validation of our game and our desire to provide best of breed. We continually add new, fun elements and surprises to FarmVille so players keep coming back." 

Players do keep coming back, in fact. The loose tally as of this morning is 81 million or so active monthly users. I asked Mooney if he and Zynga Games created the ideal Facebook game. He agreed to some extent, hailing its simple theme and mechanics as reasons it has performed so well.
 
"Clearly, FarmVille is the ideal game for Facebook based on the sheer number of players. Farming is familiar to everyone and brings out the nurturer in all of us, which is part of the reason FarmVille is so popular. 

"In addition, FarmVille is user-friendly and easy to play.  Through a lot of hard work and strategic gameplay, players earn virtual money and experience in order to upgrade their farms with advanced crops, better buildings and fun decorations. We constantly add new elements and surprises that our players love to keep them coming back."

If the numbers keep scaling the way they have been recently, FarmVille will have over 100 million active users by this summer. But Zynga isn't sitting on the behemoth, sipping cocktails on that private continent they could have purchased last week: it's churning out new games, and as I've been alerted, using the likeable mechanics from FarmVille to shape and mold them somewhat in its image.

"Additionally, we have a lot of other games on Facebook, including hits like Mafia Wars, Café World, FishVille, Zynga Poker, PetVille, YoVille, etc. -- and with each game, we release new levels, new offerings and new features to keep players engaged and content fresh. "

And fresh is the word. At some point, perhaps within the next century, FarmVille numbers will begin to dwindle. As to what Zynga might consider next, well, you'll have to tune in a bit later.



Brad Nicholson,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
4 days unt... no, wait... 3 days until Sahelanthropus.
Jish K avatarJish K
Greetings. For I am new. And still struggling to get that dang blog header to change.
From Must Git Gud avatarFrom Must Git Gud
MGSV is looking very good so far! Played to 2% completion last night. Pure stealth seems REALLY hard so far. PS3 version runs fine, loading times are OK, no slow downs, draw distance and pop-in are a bit rough. No glitches. Be prepared! Get it on PS4.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Jealous of all my brethren at PAX Prime. Sad I will miss out on the drinking, orgies and catching the PAX flew. This time next year though, I'll be there! I promise!
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Forgot to mention that I celebrated completing Persona 4: Golden by binging on a bunch of totally in-canon doujins. Including, but not limited to, Yu on genderswap't Yosuke. [img]http://i.imgur.com/Ex0MgjW.jpg[/img]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
If you love Splatoon and Transformers you may want to check theyetee.com today. http://theyetee.com/ Let's just say the shirts are... Splatfest themed. [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/j2AnOnQvRZqustSU45JP[/img]
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
BREAKING: Dtoid is at the IGN Lara Croft Go party. You can hold live snakes because why the fuck not, but one snake is missing...
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
someone help i think i'm writing what is going to be my longest blog yet
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[url="http://nintendoeverything.com/yacht-club-on-the-shovel-knight-amiibos-origins-nintendo-on-third-party-figures/#more-216265"]Interview with Yacht Club Games that miiiight basically confirm Shovel Knight isn't getting a Nintendo boss/level?[/url]
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Spent most of my day going back and playing Assassin's Creed: Unity. I really quite enjoyed it. It's a good game.
Bardley avatarBardley
Reserved my copy of The Phantom Pain today and my car died on the way back home. Thanks Konami. On the plus side, I got to ride in a tow truck to the auto shop. Felt like an elementary school field trip or something for a few minutes.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! Get a free Stealth Inc. 2 maybe? I dunno. Just signal boosting for no particular reason. Maybe 'cause I got a free game? Least I could do. https://www.humblebundle.com/store
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I gotta to admit: it feels nice to be able to play a Pokemon game without thinking to myself "oh shit, I got to fill up my Pokedex". It's nice. Oh yeah, and for the record, I'm playing through Soul Silver.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I enter the Gamestop. I set a Toad plushie atop a Yoshi plushie. I set Mario to go down on Kirby. I leave the Gamestop.
gajknight avatargajknight
Niero, just killed a man, Put my dick inside his head, cummed my load and now he's dead. Niero, we had just begun, But now I've gone and thrown it all awayyyyyy. Nierooooooo, ooooooooh.
guitarvillain avatarguitarvillain
That thought sends shivers down my spine.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Lacking recording/social features aside (I actually do love that aspect of the PS4), I've been really enjoying my Xbone. Sunset Overdrive is like Saints Row meets Tony Hawk and lovingly self-aware.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wait, wasn't that Pokemon Detective Pikachu game supposed to come out this year?
sakesushi avatarsakesushi
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! They're doing it wrong though, putting up [url="https://www.humblebundle.com/store"]Stealth Inc. 2 for free[/url]
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Just cleared out a whole village fultoning every single guard. I AM BIG BOSS.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -