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Farmville, Social Gaming, and Addiction 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the tragedy-of-the-common-interest dept.
MarkN writes "Facebook has been trumpeting the fact that Farmville, the most popular game on its site, has more users than Twitter, with 69 million playing over a month and 26 million playing each day. Combined with Facebook's announcement that they have hit 350 million users, that means one out of every five people on Facebook is playing Farmville. Gamasutra has a post taking a critical analysis of Farmville, its deceptively slow level grind, how a number of gameplay features end up as simply decorative since they aren't balanced with the benefits of raising crops, and discussing why Farmville succeeds so well in virally spreading itself and addicting people."
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Farmville, Social Gaming, and Addiction

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  • 2 thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @01:36PM (#30344180)

    Security and "China farmers".

    First, the security issue is an obvious one, when you're tempted to hand out your password so someone can "babysit" your farm.

    The other one would be an interesting one indeed. So far, I doubt any online farming game (usually browser games) got big enough to even attract "goldsellers", whatever form they may take. Now, I neither have a facebook account nor play this game, so someone who does might be able to give me a hint whether it's possible to hand over money (or whatever resource there is) in the game, but it would be interesting to see what the owners of Facebook think of a sudden dramatic increase of new users who all just play this game, know each other and basically are nothing but a huge grinder farm (no pun intended). I'd guess they wouldn't be too happy since it would poison their data pool quite a bit.

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @01:49PM (#30344264)
    I think the fact that a poor game can be so popular is the fact that they are targeting addicted social network users. That is like saying you can sell games and apps for more on an iphone... duhhh. It is all about the user base. I bet you could shoot fish in a barrel too...
  • Re:2 thoughts (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Danoz (627412) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @01:51PM (#30344270)
    doesn't really matter too much, facebook is blocked in china anyway.
  • by RabidMonkey (30447) <canadaboy.gmail@com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @01:56PM (#30344320) Homepage

    Due to Farmvilles massive spamming, and my inability to make it stop telling me when my sisters/friends/coworkers have found a new cow, I've actually resorted to unfriending people who are farmville addicts. My "newsfeed" went from updates on my friends lives to 3/4 farmville useless announcements, making it effectively useless. I was tempted to install the app to see if I could filter them somehow, but ultimately said forget it.

    It's fine if people want to play games, but frankly, the rest of the world doesn't care or need to know that you planted seeds. If I installed a facebook app that broadcasted every time I got a green drop in WoW I'm sure my friends wouldn't be too happy.

    Add to this the Mafia wars spam, and these stupid little apps have made a mess out of what was once a useful tool for me to keep on top of my friends day to day and related silliness.

  • Re:Forget Farmville (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @02:15PM (#30344498) Journal

    Are you kidding? I had the same situation, and took the time to breathe one hell of a big sigh of relief that I didn't marry her.

  • by IANAAC (692242) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @02:22PM (#30344554)
    Really, it's like you all are a bunch of unthinking zombies. It's incredibly easy to hide what you don't want to see with simple click.

    Do you just load the page and wait to see what happens?

    There's a lot you can filter if you take two seconds to look.

  • by grahamtriggs (572707) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @02:40PM (#30344710)

    Yes, you can block posts from an application. As I already have, along with the hundreds of other applications that spam my newsfeed every day.

    It's still one of the major reasons why I've largely turned my back on Facebook and turned to Twitter.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @02:50PM (#30344776)

    I think the fact that a poor game can be so popular is the fact that they are targeting addicted social network users.

    That is a valid point.

    That is like saying you can sell games and apps for more on an iphone... duhhh. It is all about the user base.

    I'm not sure I'm following you here. You think you can sell games for more on an iPhone than on what platform? Games are certainly cheaper on average than on a Nintendo DS or PSP (which average $32 a title). I haven't seen overall numbers for other phone platforms, but there are published numbers on the average cost of the top 10 most popular paid apps and the iPhone is at the bottom of the list:

    • iPhone - $1.60
    • Windows Mobile - $20.00
    • BlackBerry - $18.00
    • Nokia Symbian S60 - $24.50

    In short, I don't know where you get the idea that people pay more for apps on the iPhone, but from all the numbers I've seen the exact opposite seems to be the case by a huge margin. The larger user base a developer can target with a single version of the app and the fact that Apple charges very little from developers (profiting from increased Phone sales instead) has made the iPhone a place where people actually make money selling small titles for a dollar and major games for $10.

  • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @03:14PM (#30345010) Homepage
    Call me Mr Grumpy Pants, but my ideal woman is not someone whose idea of a fulfilling life is playing some stupid flash game.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @03:31PM (#30345136)

    I've got a friend that purchased on his own a Wii (so his kids/wife can play games) and a PS3 for his hardcore (FPS and fighting) games. He received a xbox360 as a gift from a cousin. Probably has about a $1000 worth of platforms and associated games.

    Yet if his wife doesn't tell him "Go to bed, it's late" he can play Mafiawars/Farmville until the sun comes up. Amazing how addictive these games are without having to have massive graphics, sound, rumble controllers, online multiplayer. Just a flash interface and a bunch of clicking.

    I'm waiting for Southpark to do an episode on Farmville as a remake of the WoW episode.

  • by Firehed (942385) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:01PM (#30345384) Homepage

    You probably should be able to - both games are run by the same company.

    Of course, you should also be able to order hits on all of your friends playing FarmVille, so this cross-game thing may not be the best idea after all.

  • Re:2 thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firehed (942385) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:09PM (#30345462) Homepage

    Many facebook games (Farmville included) have eliminated the need for gold farmers by selling the currency (or other in-game items) themselves. In fact, it's one of if not the largest revenue stream for many of them, in addition to ad sales. They figured out what Blizzard et al haven't - people are willing to pay cash for game currency, so it might as well be the game developers who are doing the selling.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @05:37PM (#30346042)

    Pretty much all winmo apps are free...

    Yeah, but there are still fewer free apps for WinMo than the iPhone. What were were talking about was specifically excluding apps for free because you said apps that were sold. I'm not interested in getting in a dick waving contest with you about whether Windows Mobile or the iPhone is a better platform for some purpose. I don't care and don't own one of either. I'm just wondering where you got the idea that apps cost more on the iPhone, since I've never seen any article that made such a claim and many that said the opposite.

    If you do have a source for your opinion, please present it, otherwise I'm writing your opinion off as just unsupported belief from a fanboy/hater.

    Find stats on amount of money spent on apps PER phone.

    Why? How does that matter when it can be hugely influenced by how many offerings are available on a given platform and by how easy it is to acquire those offerings. You might as well argue that people that shop at Walmart spend more money than people who shop at the Gap, because the average person spends more money at the former in a year. Of course they do, because Walmart has a lot more selection of products.

  • Re:FarmTown (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Evro (18923) * <evandhoffmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @05:52PM (#30346190) Homepage Journal

    I may be wrong, but my understanding is that FarmVille is a nearly complete ripoff of FarmTown, and FarmTown has a lot more interesting features (interaction with other players, etc).

  • Not totally. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:55PM (#30347266) Homepage

    You can disable that.

    You can only fully disable it if you completely opt out of using any Facebook applications. While it's true that most Facebook apps are crap, it'd be nice to be able to play Lexulous with friends without having any black-hat or social marketer who's written a quiz have access to my name and list of friends (along with whatever other info I'm not careful enough about).

    The option they need is: "only reveal even my mere existence to apps I've explicitly opted into."

  • People are aliens. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:13AM (#30349454)

    Seriously. Farmville?

    I'll do you one better.

    I'm annoyed that I need a Facebook account just to receive what we used to call, "Email".

    The advantage I see is that open messages can turn into impromptu, albeit simple discussion forums with built-in photo catalogs. This can be more useful than email for some jobs.

    But that's not what it's all about, as Farmville indicates. I think Facebook touches some kind of primal-tribal-pack-animal nerve. Farmville itself might represent more than just a dumb game with an addictive tamagachi edge. It might be a subconscious response to the fact that our food supply is precarious and stupid and that survival might fairly soon depend upon being able to raise chickens and grow potatoes in your back yard. [freep.com]

    -FL

  • by lamapper (1343009) on Monday December 07, 2009 @03:02AM (#30350014) Homepage Journal

    Something I overheard: "Can I grow weed on Farmville and sell it on Mafia Wars?"

    That is funny, but you hit a good point. Since most of the FaceBook games ONLY allow FaceBook users, there is little incentive to share between social networks. This will probably change this next year (if a company is confident theirs is the superior social game for that genre, they should not be afraid to share the API with other social networks, even if owned by another company...of course if they are afraid that they are not good enough, the fear will keep them from opening up their api. It would probably bring them even more users...Note: FaceBook will NOT be the first, their business model is too closed for now, but as new players enter and start opening up their API, as people naturally move to the more open and therefore socially superior environment, they will have to open up or diminish.).

    It makes perfect sense for a person in Farmville or Farmtown (different companies I know) grow food and use that food in their Restaurant on Restaurant City. One day, just not today.

    If you grow weed on your farm and use it in Mafia wars, should that not open the door for these two scenarios as well...1) Different Mafias coming (only to your farm) and taking it over? 2) The FarmVille police, sheriff, DEA, etc... from paying you a visit?

    I wonder if second life will allow you to control your legal framework of your community, so if you wanted to legalize certain drugs, etc...Why should your community not be allowed to. Wouldn't it be something if you could share resources between Second Life, FaceBook and others?

    I think its called trade in the real world...makes sense if you want the experience to be more realistic. Of course given the size of people to animals to structures in either Farmville or Farmtown, it is not as real as it should be. Perhaps when they dump flash and start coding in C, PHP, perhaps C++ if not limited to one companies compiler they could implement a Google Earth like 3 dimensional virtual environment, like Second life is now but in Farmville, Restaurant City and Farmtown among others....

    Just as Farmville usurped Farmtown's lead, the first company to get away from Flash and move the virtual world to a more robust and feature rich tool set will blow Farmville away. Such a world will not crash because of Flash and that in and of itself will be a huge plus.

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