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VC Defends Farmville, Touts Virtual Tractor Sales 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-the-economy-is-fine dept.
theodp writes "In a blog post, venture capitalist Fred Wilson gives his thoughts on ripe areas for tech investment in 2010 — mobile, gaming, new forms of commerce/currency, Cloud platforms/APIs, education and energy/environment. Asked to comment on scams and social gaming (he is an investor in Zynga), Wilson defended Zynga's Farmville: 'Zynga makes almost all of its revenue on virtual goods. I said in my etsy/san telmo post the other day that more tractors are sold every day in Farmville than are sold in the US every year. That's where the money is in social gaming. The "scammy ads" thing is total red herring that everyone got excited about but is almost entirely irrelevant.'"
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VC Defends Farmville, Touts Virtual Tractor Sales

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  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:10AM (#30631744)

    In my Civ 4 game I built more battleships than the US ever produced in its history. Know why? Because it's a fucking game!

    I fail to see how they think that their number for tractor sales has anything to do with the fact that it is a borderline scam, and a crap game to boot.

    • Is Civ 4 a good game? If we're stuck with a game advert article, we might as well sway it over to a something a gamer will actually play.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rockoon (1252108) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:34AM (#30631872)
        Very good game if you like turn-based strategy. Just one more turn...
        • by TJamieson (218336)

          Damn Mongolians won't vote for me with the UN! :-)

          (Yes, it's a Civ4 joke)

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Funny)

            by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:00AM (#30632010) Journal

            On a slightly related funny note, people really bitch about everything [variety.com]:

            "Civilization IV: Colonization Called 'Morally Disturbing'"

            I literally exclaimed "holy sh*t" out loud when I was reading an e-mail this morning listing the "Games for Windows" coming out this year and I came across this:

            “Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization” (2K Games). In “Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization,” players lead one of four European nations on a quest to conquer and rule the New World."

            But goddamit, am I the only one who think it's morally disturbing to make a game that celebrates COLONIZATION? It's ironic, actually, because just a few months ago a friend sent me a link to some information about the original "Colonization" game from 1994 (pictured left) that this one updates. At first, I thought it had to be a joke, but sure enough, it was real. However, I dismissed it as a relic from a time when neither developers nor players took videogames seriously as media with moral implications.

            But the idea that 2K and Firaxis and Sid Meier himself would make and release a game in the year 2008 that is not only about colonization, but celebrates it by having the player control the people doing the colonizing is truly mind boggling.

            Remember all the debate when Newsweek's N'Gai Croal said of the "Resident Evil 5" trailer with the African zombies that "Even if you are familiar with the franchise, if you are familiar with those images and their historical weight, you look at it and say, 'Man, that’s kind of messed up.'" Well, I agreed with N'Gai on that issue, but in my opinion, a game about colonization is about 100 times more messed up. "Throughout history, colonization regularly involved stealing, killing, abuse, deceit, and the exploitation or decimation of native people," he added. "Anybody with a shred of moral conscience who studies the history will be appalled. Whether it was British rule in India or slavery in Africa or Aboriginal children kidnapped and taken to Christian schools in Australia or the dislocation of Native Americans in the U.S., there were no positive colonization experiences."

            Fritz said he's not calling for a ban on the game, emphasizing that 2K has every right to release it for sale. "But I think personally they shouldn't release it, if it's at all what it appears to be based on the early marketing," he continued. "And I'm hoping a lot of people agree with me and will say so publicly."

            That's pretty ridiculous. Imagine if he knew there were nuclear weapons and slaves in Civ 4.

          • by mjwx (966435)
            I laugh a bit when I see "George Washington adopts State Property" or "Stalin adopts Free Market"
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        AI is better but the interface is a pain. I don't need zoomable 3D battles of units, that's only interesting the first time you see it (like friggin' Battlechess.) I still say Firaxis peaked with Alpha Centauri.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sopssa (1498795) *

          Alpha Centauri would had been great otherwise, but future scifi thing wasn't that interesting for me. Not really the history part in Civ's either tho, I always just rushed to modern day with technology, but it's the necessary evil to build up your civilization for the modern days.

          Some mix between Civ 2 and Civ 4 would be great. Better AI, better diplomacy and other little improvements, but the interface should stay the same. They should do a 15th year anniversary edition for next year, like Blue Byte did wi

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Alpha Centauri would had been great otherwise, but future scifi thing wasn't that interesting for me.

            I liked the whole living planet thing but then again I'm a big Frank Herbert fan so I was probably part of the target audience.

            Not really the history part in Civ's either tho, I always just rushed to modern day with technology, but it's the necessary evil to build up your civilization for the modern days.

            Interesting. I'm the exact opposite: I like building up a civ but lose interest when the game reaches modern times. Maybe that's why I liked AC with its focus on terraforming.

            They should do a 15th year anniversary edition for next year, like Blue Byte did with Settlers 2.

            Sounds great but if it's going to be anything like what they did to Colonization with Civilization IV: Colonization I'd rather they didn't. Unfortunately I think they are completely invested in the new Civ IV U

        • by Entropius (188861)

          You can turn that off...

    • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:31AM (#30631854) Homepage Journal

      What's a scam about it? They explain to you in simple language that it costs money to have certain items. I play farmville when I am waiting for my brain to function enough to play AlphaC in the wee small hours of the morning (sometimes by way of Pioneers) and it's amusing enough. There's a cute little sense of community, gift-trading with friends. And it has cost me nothing but time (and a share of my internet access bill, I guess.) Don't hate the game, hate the stupid, stupid players who spend actual money on it.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheLink (130905) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:38AM (#30631900) Journal
        Why should you hate the "stupid" players that spend actual money on it?

        They pay for the servers you use to play your game for free.
        • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:45AM (#30631932) Journal

          And even more so, why should you hate or think the people are "stupid" just because they pay for entertainment they enjoy? I wouldn't pay for it. I don't think it makes that much sense either. But if they like it and think it's worth it, just let them do what they want. It doesn't make them more stupid, they just have different priorities or things they enjoy.

          Just as well as they probably think you are being stupid to buy that newest $800 graphic card or spend so much configuring your linux when you could just run windows or mac.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I don't really hate anyone, except the people who are talking about how evil farmville is for selling crap to suckers. I don't hate them, I just think they're fools. But since lots of people will think I'm an idiot for harvesting virtual poinsettias, I concede the point that it's a matter of taste. You're free to waste your money on whatever you like.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:10AM (#30632060)

        The scam part is not in buying tractors or trading gifts, but in the "offers" that give you FarmVille currency in exchange for handing over your cell phone number, to which monthly subscription charges begin accruing without your knowledge. This usually comes hidden in a survey or game of some sort in which you either hand over the cell phone number directly (in the case of some surveys) or after playing, in order to get a PIN to let you access results from the survey or game. There's clearly no need for a PIN, as the results could just be displayed on the computer without one—the scammer just wants the cell phone number.

        • Could the Google Voice capability to receive SMS for free help with this? You can receive the texts to get the pin/validate your number/etc but any scam charges could not be passed through, especially if you don't have a cell phone associated w/your GV account
        • Perhaps you can answer a question for me...

          1) What keeps such scammers from simply leafing through a phone book, happening upon a cell phone number/name combination, and starting billing on that number? ... okay, two, then.
          2) If it takes more than just the phone number and name, what is the trigger that allows such organizations to commit this scam? ... three! these questions three!
          3) Assuming that one's name and phone number (as a combination) will eventually escape into cyberspace, how does one prevent t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pherthyl (445706)

        >>Don't hate the game, hate the stupid, stupid players who spend actual money on it.

        Why are they stupid? I bet most people here have spent money on games. I spent a few hundred buying games through Steam, does that make me stupid? How is spending money to get in-game items for a free game any dumber than spending money to buy a game in the first place? In both cases you get nothing that has any relevance in real life, and in both cases you do it for entertainment.
        I don't play Farmville, but just

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      Of course its different and I'm sure he didn't really mean its comparable like that, but just gave an example (a car one too!) of the scale. It's also a far better business model than advertisement, since people like to feel better in games or have some advantages. Is it really that useful? Maybe not, but its entertaining for them, so let people do what they find entertaining.

      I agree somewhat that the scammy ads thing was uncalled against Zynga, since those ads were given to players by their advertising com

      • by yoshi_mon (172895)

        Even if we all here on /. hate twitter and facebook and such social sites (you have to interact with people!)...

        The thing is that I'd say that even here on /. and other various sites the interaction with people part is not the issue at all. Hell geeks have been using newsgroups, IRC, and other forms of interaction over the internet since it's been around.

        No, it's rather the fact that such 'social networking' sites are all about gathering your personal information and then selling it. We know this far better than our non-techie peers and as such steer away from them.

      • by DarKnyht (671407)

        Zynga also scams advertisers by telling them all the users are active users. Most of the users I've met that actually still play Zynga games really are not, instead they have scripts playing for them. The scripts take the moves exactly when they can, purchase the optimal gear at the right times, and basically walks the player to the top of the lists.

        This is what made me walk away from the games (they were a nice distraction at times), the realization that unless I poured hundreds of dollars into the game

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xouumalperxe (815707) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:34AM (#30631882)

      and a crap game to boot.

      That's your opinion (and mine as well, actually). But what are we when faced with the sheer amount of people who do play it, and when enough of those play it hardcore enough that they'll pay for virtual property to keep a company afloat?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770)

        My guess is it is two things:

        1) Novelty. I think the whole facebook games thing is novel to many people and thus why they are popular right now. I also think the market is more or less doomed in the long run. I think the novelty will wear off and given that most of the games are fairly poor quality people will go elsewhere.

        2) People who want to play at work. Flash games are a lot more obvious than facebook.

        I don't think the number of players are because it is good, I think it is just a fad.

    • Agreed, though his comparison is silly for one other reason: you don't have to spend real money to "buy" a tractor - you can do it with coins you earn in the thing.

      ...now gas OTOH? That's a mother to get hold of (it requires those farmbucks, though you can get those just by leveling up).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CrankyFool (680025)

        It's worth noting that fuel is one of the things that you naturally collect over time in Farmville -- it takes about 8 hours for my fuel gauge to refill completely. Does mean you can't always use the tractor (or harvester, or seeder), but for me, given that the only real reason I have for using the tractor is to earn the King of the Plow ribbons, I'm OK with just using the fuel as quickly as I 'distill' it (partially because I have no intention of giving Zynga any actual money).

    • I can't wait for Civilization Network to be available on Facebook so we can split the difference here:

      http://www.facebook.com/civnetwork?v=info [facebook.com]

      -=Steve=-

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:13AM (#30631758)

    Too many non productive "things" are becoming parts of a virtual economy. What is this? We are still living in RL, this isn't the Matrix and even if, the Matrix still has an RL "dynamic" that keeps it running.
    Real products (hard machines or what have you) need to be produced and sold to make an economy (and indeed humanity) better. Not virtual "stuff"....

    • there is nothing here to be alarmed about. it is just an account you buy and your purchase additional bits of data they will track for you. Same as you do in a gym when you buy a membership card and then add a training schedule to it.

      It is sale of a piece of entertainment. There is nothing virtual about it.

      And it neatly allows people to look a bit silly when they compare sale of a physical product with the selling of a few bytes of data.

      There is NO virtual. Never has been, never will be. All that you got

      • Farmville is a service. Same as your phone line and all things associated with it are. Your landline is connected, all it takes is a bit to be flipped in the "virtual" world for it to work. No different from buying an asset in a game.

        A phone line is a service that one can use to interact with suppliers of products and services considered necessary to one's continued functioning. An online game is not, apart from corner cases involving Second Life.

        • So before phones, we couldn't life?

          A secret phone number is a "virtual" service no different from the tractor in farmville.

          Labelling a service/product differently because is considered essential is silly.

          • by tepples (727027)

            So before phones, we couldn't life?

            Before phones, there was no 9-1-1 service to contact first responders. A lot of people would die without modern technology such as 9-1-1.

            A secret phone number is a "virtual" service no different from the tractor in farmville.

            Marking a phone number as unlisted can be used to help produce goods and services, as it reduces the cost of filtering spam calls.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alcmaeon (684971)
      I agree with you. In this age where the Chinese have decided to base their economy on the old methods of building real products for real people and America's economy has turned to shit, thank God capitalism and that entrepreneurial spirit are still alive in America to save us. Now we can sell virtual tractors for our virtual farms. Take that, you commie gooks!
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:30AM (#30632186)

        I'm not sure what is stupider: Your retarded post that shows extreme ignorance of economics and manufacturing (here's a hint: the US is still the world top manufacturing economy) or the fact that you screwed your racial epithet up. Gook is an epithet for Koreans, not Chinese. If you are going to be racist, you could at least try and get your terms straight.

        • Read his post again, it was clearly written sarcastically.

        • by LS (57954)

          Sound of sarcasm flying over your head? wooooooooooooooooooooosh!

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Gook is an epithet for Koreans

          Actually it is for Vietnamese (can also extend to Lao or Khmer). It came about in the Vietnam war and is (unfortunately) still in popular usage here in Australia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

      I agree with sopssa, it's a game. I think the minimum of what needs to happen to make a legitimate economy is that money has to voluntarily change hands. I don't see a virtual item is necessarily any different than some other worthless trinket. Non productive things such as games, movies and music are the same way, it now costs almost nothing extra to make more copies, but someone did have to make the original work.

      There's also a point where you don't need more real things, after you have your needs met

      • by Znork (31774)

        I think the minimum of what needs to happen to make a legitimate economy

        Well, there are other things, such as the freedom to purchase from other producers, etc. So as long as competing providers can sell 'virtual tractors', there's no problem, competition works and the production of 'virtual tractors' is maximized for the resources spent on them.

        On the other hand, if the 'virtual goods' can only be bought from one place, their price will be far beyond the free market value, and the 'real world' economy will

        • by Al Dimond (792444)

          I've never played Farmville but I've read a bit about it. Here's the thing. Farmville doesn't really have a sophisticated internal economy. When you buy tractors you're not really paying for a tractor, but for the game itself. Not for a couple columns bumped in a database row, but for the hardware, software, and effort that go into producing the game. The trick for the game makers is to figure out how to get people to want to buy lots of "tractors". You're right in that there's basically no effort involved

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by selven (1556643)

      How is owning a big house IRL superior to owning one in a game? Seriously, if you spend a lot of your time in the game anyway, isn't it more logical to make yourself wealthy in the game than pimp out yourself in real life?

      I understand the need to give ourselves basic needs like food, water and internet but at some point there really is no difference.

    • by pmontra (738736) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:18AM (#30632108) Homepage
      People buy many useless "real" things. Any of us does. If that useless stuff is good for the economy so are the useless "virtual" things of many games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Real" stuff like pet rocks, virtual pet rocks, virtual pets, beenie babies, prayers, etc,

      Every generation has their "What the hell did we spend money on?" product. This one seems to have virtual products.

    • Too many non productive "things" are becoming parts of a virtual economy. What is this? We are still living in RL, this isn't the Matrix and even if, the Matrix still has an RL "dynamic" that keeps it running.
      Real products (hard machines or what have you) need to be produced and sold to make an economy (and indeed humanity) better. Not virtual "stuff"....

      Stuff like movies, software, and research findings? I wouldn't be surprised if "virtual" products combined have been right up there with agriculture with staples of our economy for a while.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This needs to be the year that those of us with even the slightest degree of technical knowledge take a stand against the goddamn "Cloud".

    It sounds fantastic in theory, but once in the real world, Cloud Computing falls flat on its face. My development and ops teams wasted too much time dealing with Cloud providers over the past year. So my resolution this year is to tell anyone who proposes the use of anything Cloud to cram it. We aren't doing it any longer. It's a failed approach.

    Just last week, during the

    • by nloop (665733) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:05PM (#30633772)

      It sounds fantastic in theory, but once in the real world, Cloud Computing falls flat on its face.

      Try explaining that to the 11 million people who play FarmVille. Or to Google. Sure, you don't like cloud computing, I don't love it either, but falls on its face? Nah. Epically popular? Yup.

      • by rnswebx (473058)

        Try explaining that to the 11 million people who play FarmVille.

        Actually, the number is over twice what you quoted. There are 24+ million [developeranalytics.com] people who play FarmVille every day. In addition to being incredibly popular, FarmVille also helped raise over $700,000 [betterverse.org] for charity in 2009.

        (Disclaimer: I work for Zynga, and was one of the original team members to bring FarmVille online.)

  • My rule of thumb. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eric S. Smith (162) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:26AM (#30631828) Homepage

    I know nothing about this story, but I just always assume that anything built on Facebook is a scam, whether for money or ID theft. Go sell your virtual cheese elsewhere, vampire gangsters.

  • by lucm (889690) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:28AM (#30631840)

    Buying virtual tractors for a game seems ridiculous, until you compare it with buying virtual fish for a screensaver...

    • by Xelios (822510) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:52AM (#30631980)
      It seems ridiculous to you and me, but to the millions of people who aren't as versed in technology as the average /. user maybe not. A few weeks ago I finally caved and opened a Facebook account (albeit with fake info), solely to keep in touch with friends back home after moving to Europe. Quite a few of them are into the Farmville thing (mostly the women), so I checked that out and my first thought was "Wow, people actually pay money to buy things in this game?". I never would, but some of my friends have. I asked them why, why pay money for such ridiculously simple [crappy] games? "Why not?" they said.

      I thought about it for a while, and I really didn't have a good answer. I've paid monthly fees to play MMOG's before. I pay money for a usenet account. To most of my friends spending money for these things would seem just as ridiculous. It's all a matter of perspective. For them, that tractor in Farmville is about as far as they've ventured into the gaming world outside of consoles, so why not spend a little money for it?

      Now the really scary thing happened when I first opened my Facebook account. All the info I gave was fake, including my name, except the email address. I entered a really old Hotmail address that I stopped using years ago. Since then it's been my disposable email address for anything that wouldn't accept 10mintemail addresses. From this one piece of real information Facebook built a list of probable friends, and 80% of them were people I know. How they managed to pull this off with a 6 year old Hotmail address is beyond me.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        from other dump people who shared their address book with facebook.

      • by karnal (22275) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:35AM (#30632226)

        I'll elaborate on the AC that posted a reply to you. In my experience, Facebook does 3 things to find friends for you:

        1. Look through your address book and attempt to find people who match that are already in the system by e-mail (and sometimes name)
        2. Dig your e-mail address out of other people's address books that they've harvested from e-mail accounts. (this may or may not be a true statement, but judging by your comment...)
        3. Offer up "Friends of Friends" - chances are, you're friends with other people's friends, so they offer those too as suggested friends.

        • Additionally, I ran into a situation where I spoke on the phone with a female friend I hadn't talked to in years. She's not on Facebook, but her friends are. A few days later, I had one of her friends show up as a suggested friend. What I suspect happened is that she asked her friend to look me up on Facebook and as a result of the search (and likely click-through) it suggested I add her as a friend.

      • I thought about it for a while, and I really didn't have a good answer. I've paid monthly fees to play MMOG's before. I pay money for a usenet account. To most of my friends spending money for these things would seem just as ridiculous. It's all a matter of perspective. For them, that tractor in Farmville is about as far as they've ventured into the gaming world outside of consoles, so why not spend a little money for it?

        And unlike non-free MMOGs you don't have to pay. A monthly fee is at least as dubious a proposition given all the games out there that don't charge a subscription. Paying in these Zynga games is always a reasoned tradeoff: "I want X so I'll pay $Y to get it". I may not think that X is worth Y, but that's a personal value judgement no different than scoffing at people who buy stuff from shops that I think is overvalued.

        As for how "good" these games are, they use basically the same formula as Diablo and WO

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Buying virtual tractors for a game seems ridiculous, until you compare it with buying virtual fish for a screensaver...

      Or buying virtual strippers.

  • The question I have is how do tractors become real money for Zynga. This is always a big question for games that are free to enter. How do you get your players to pay with real money?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Wolfraider (1065360)
      Easy, the tractors are basically free but to get fuel to farm more than half a screen costs farmville cash and that costs real money.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:00AM (#30632004)

      In Farmville things either cost coins or FarmVille Dollars (FVD). Coins are easy to get: whenever you harvest something, you get coins. Coins are spent on the "mundane" things. Crops, some decorations, tractors, barns (red only), a small pond etc.

      FVD are difficult to get. You get one FVD every time you level. Or you buy them. FVD's are used to buy more exotic things: barns (in a variety of colors), a large pond, special purpose seasonal stuff, a different class of decorations, fuel for your tractor, etc.

      Now, you don't strictly need to have all these goodies, but as people play, they have the oppurtunity to get more stuff (of course), and you need to have a place for your stuff. The only way to get more room for your stuff is to expand your farm. Now, you can expand your farm by either having lots of friends that play FV, and then it only costs you coins, or you can buy a bigger lot, which costs FVD. If your the type of person that buys a lot of the specialty stuff, your already buying FVD so buying the larger farms isn't that big of a deal.

      Now, to specifically answer the question: Although tractors, seeders and harvesters are coin based purchases, the fuel refills are not. Now, you don't need to buy the fuel, you can wait a day and get a free refill, but if you have one of the larger farms, you will not be able to harvest, plow and seed all of it on the one refill. And since you have a very limited supply of FVD that you earn.... It becomes a habit that must be paid for.
       

      • by RedWizzard (192002) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:29PM (#30637138)

        Now, to specifically answer the question: Although tractors, seeders and harvesters are coin based purchases, the fuel refills are not. Now, you don't need to buy the fuel, you can wait a day and get a free refill, but if you have one of the larger farms, you will not be able to harvest, plow and seed all of it on the one refill. And since you have a very limited supply of FVD that you earn.... It becomes a habit that must be paid for.

        Except tractors, seeders and harvesters only reduce the number of clicks you have to do. They don't have any significant bearing on the game - you don't actually need them. Also a bit of planning can let you use them for free even with a large farm: just plant smaller plots with selected crops that will be due for harvest when you know you'll have fuel (this is actually just about the only scope for strategy in the whole game). So it's easy to avoid getting addicted to buying fuel if you don't want to.

  • but I have to get back to Farmville! My pumpkins are dying and I have 57 gifts to receive.
  • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:52AM (#30631976)

    Might as well compare the number of virtual Nazi's killed in games vs. actual Nazi's killed in WWII. I'm guessing there's probably a few gamers who have exceeded that on their own. And, like virtual tractor sales vs. actual tractor sales it's a very potent comparison that proves....I mean, shows that.....I mean, suggests....I mean, that vaguely resembles...ummmmmmm...absolutely nothing.

    Might as well compare these:
    Cartoon cranial anvil assaults vs actual cranial anvil assaults
    "CSI" crime solving rate vs. actual crime solving rate
    Virtual car theft vs. actual car theft
    Porno movie pizza delivery guy sex rate vs actual pizza delivery guy sex rate

    BTW, his claim is BS:
    "Andrew Trader, co-founder of Zynga, said the company makes about a third of its revenue from advertising and another third from virtual goods transactions. The last third comes from companies that provide commercial offers, trading Netflix memberships and marketing surveys for in-game cash."

    1/3 is not almost all.

    • by Phrogman (80473)

      Porno movie pizza delivery guy sex rate vs actual pizza delivery guy sex rate

      Well I can provide some hard data on this, as I deliver pizzas on the weekend:
      Actual Pizza Delivery Guy Sex Rate (from delivering pizzas): 0

      • I will add however that I have seen a great number of semi-clad women appearing at the door, as well as quite a few appearing naked or sem-clad (the later is more common by far) and received a lot of views of exposed breasts by way of tips :)

        Luckily I have only seen 1 naked male so far in several years of delivery :P

  • Two things:

    1. Almost entirely irrelevant is not the same as being entirely irrelevant. There are people for whom Zynga's behaviour is atrocious enough to make them think twice about using its products.

    2. This doesn't change the fact that Zynga's games are buggy, derivative pieces of crap, and more than half of my friends who've tried either Farmville or CafeWorld have left their virtual farms and restaurants to gather dust. If you keep dragging newbies in, but most of those wander away due to boredom or

    • by Tjebbe (36955)

      that's not really a "growth" business plan.

      My Prediction for 2010: First big public case of Social-Networking-App-Gone-Ponzi

  • Um, tractors (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrslacker (1122161) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @11:15AM (#30632092)

    Except that tractors cost 30000 coins, which is easily obtained with patience, and doesn't cost any real money at all, certainly not the "FarmVille cash" - unless they've changed something recently.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by karnal (22275)

      I think the scam is that you have to use their in-game cash (Farm Cash) to buy fuel refills for the tractors/harvesters/seeders. They don't have a current way to either get fuel as a gift or to purchase it with coins - the in-game currency that you gain by planting and harvesting crops.

      Similarly, expanding your farm's area can be done two ways - with coins or with their Farm Cash. But - for those of us without 200 friends that play farmville on a casual basis, if you want to expand the farm you need to ha

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mrslacker (1122161)

        Yes, fair enough. But the immediate suggestion elsewhere that buying tractors helps Zynga is false.

        I admit it, I'm level 40 - have been playing for a long time. I've never spent any money on it. You do get given FV cash occasionally on levelling up, but not enough to make a difference. I think I have 15 neighbors or something. I do my wife's farm too, which has helped with various bonuses, etc.

        Yes, the fuel thing is frustrating, since a tank is nowhere near enough to harvest/plough/seed, and you are re

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        I think the scam is that you have to use their in-game cash (Farm Cash) to buy fuel refills for the tractors/harvesters/seeders. They don't have a current way to either get fuel as a gift or to purchase it with coins - the in-game currency that you gain by planting and harvesting crops.

        How is that a scam? It's not scamming people out of their money - they know they're buying in-game cash for the game to get fuel.

        • by karnal (22275)

          In my opinion, I feel it is a scam because I don't think that spending money on virtual items is a good investment.

          Now, others may respond with "Well, isn't your time worth money? Then buy the fuel and save time." Well, if my choices are being bored or being slightly entertained by growing a farm, then that's my choice that I can make and live with. I can truly deal with spending a little more time clicking than spending money on something that at the end of the day isn't getting me anywhere in life once

      • Fuel refills automatically, within 24 hours, probably closer to 12 hours.

        Anyone with a Holiday Tree and received presents should now have a tonne of Fuel refills to use.

        And everyone with a Tractor, Harvester, or Seeder will get free Fuel Refills starting tomorrow, for one week.

        Thus, there is absolutely no reason to spend money, real or virtual, on Fuel in Farmville. Anyone that does so is either crazy, delusional, insane, a fool, or ADHD. :) All it takes is time. And if you block your character in, so th

        • by karnal (22275)

          Saw a friend who had his char blocked in - thought that was a neat trick, so I replicated it. It does help, however having enough fuel to fully repopulate a field with crops, even at my lower level, takes a lot of mouse clicks out of it.

  • This is not the same as virtual tractors sold for real dollars. In farmville, if you play the game it earns you points you can use to buy a tractor. This would be like saying that more shields were sold in Zelda for NES than were ever sold in real life, and that this fact somehow made Zelda a great game. (Zelda is great for other reasons)

  • Uhh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by segin (883667)

    I said in my etsy/san telmo post the other day that more tractors are sold every day in Farmville than are sold in the US every year.

    Well, at least you know why the economy is down the shitter, everyone's busy playing Farmville and not doing something productive.

    But who am I to judge, all I do is sit around and read Slashdot all day, so...

  • I was about to say, "Yeah, but people have been spending money on video games ever since "Space Invaders". But I quickly realized that there are a couple of significant differences between this and the 80's coin-op arcade.

    1. You can burn a LOT more time for a lot less money today.

    2. Pac Man and Donkey Kong were interactive puzzles which only took a few minutes to play in most cases. They were carnival attractions which you visited for a laugh and then left behind. Games today are more like extended dream

    • Pac Man fever was real. For some people it was the WoW/Evercrack of its era.

  • Follow that last sentence: " but is almost entirely irrelevant."

    Someone needs to teach this dipshit how to lie. It's not almost entirely that hard.

  • by voidstin (51561) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @12:39PM (#30632682)

    So, if the revenue really comes from honestly entertained consumers trading money for an enjoyable experience, fine. Do that. Stop it with the text message scams and toolbar downloads. [gawker.com].

    But, since $9.99/mo in hidden text message charges > $1 for a tractor, it seems to me that the tractor is the red herring, in order to get you to the far more profitable malware. But Zynga can easily prove me wrong by stopping these practices....

  • Do some real farming (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pubwvj (1045960)

    How about investing in real small farms.
    You don't have to be a huge investor.
    Make a small loan. Buy pastured pork.
    Build a future of real food.
    See below.

    Cheers

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Save 30% off Pastured Pork with free processing: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/csa [sugarmtnfarm.com]
    Read about our on-farm butcher shop project: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/butchershop [sugarmtnfarm.com]

  • More people have fallen in holes playing "E.T." on the Atari than in real life, and that's not a great game by anyone's standards.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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