Farmville — a fun casual simulation game, played in your browser via Facebook. The look of the game is a bit cartoony, but it’s pretty and appealing. Your goal is to build and manage a farm — couple of clicks, nothing hard. You grow crops and trees and keep animals. When you harvest the fruit trees, the crops, collect eggs (all with a click on the item) you get money to expand your farm. “Farm” is loosely defined. My “farm” has a crashed alien spaceship, green cows (think spaceship radiation), a Ferris wheel, a variety of farm animals, some reindeer, nine small plots of land, a citrus orchard, and more. On the animals — you do collect eggs, but that’s as far as it goes. There’s no animal killing. When your pigs are ready to produce something, they give you truffles!
What makes Farmville manageable is that time progresses when you aren’t there, and what you do in the game is limited. If a crop is ready to harvest in two days, it’s two calendar days. Farmville is a nice complement to Facebook. The social aspect happens when your Facebook friends give you Farmville “gifts” (trees, sheep, etc), and when you go help out on your friends farms — simple clicking to get rid of weeds, all that. Advancement is based on two things, making money, and gaining XP, experience. As you progress in experience, you unlock more levels and can buy more stuff.
The trick in playing Farmville is to limit the amount of things you pay for, using real money. The game is free to play, but there are some things that take a long time to acquire, and some things that can only be bought with real money. Zynga, the developer, is an expert at the microtransaction business — getting you to pay for stuff. You can have a perfectly great time without microtransactions, but it’s hard to resist, since the extras are very appealing. I have not completely resisted — I really had to buy that spaceship and the Ferris wheel! Farmville also has seasonal items, some of which you can buy with cash you earn in game, while some, as far as I can tell, requires spending a little “real” money.
Zynga, the developer, structures it so that, if you let it, you end up automatically posting your progress on Facebook, a lot. That’s the whole point — it’s social and it’s also an advertisement for the game. The posting is optional. I tend to limit what I let Farmville post on Facebook. Unless your Facebook friends are only there to play Farmville, they will get tired of seeing all your Farmville posts, if you let Farmville post every one of your accomplishment.
Most of my Facebook friends do not play Farmville, but enough do so that I have Farmville “neighbors”. I like it. It’s also a fun way to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in years, people who would never play any other kind of video game.
As for the company itself, Zynga is the darling of the business world — their casual browser based games bring in money. Unfortunately, Zynga does have questionable business practices. There are a several articles about their practices. The Wikipedia article isn’t too bad. Techcrunch also has some good articles. Here’s an interesting article —
The issue isn’t paying for extra items — that’s all up front, nothing wrong about that. The issue is in getting your Farmville “cash” for things you need for Farmville, Mafia Wars, Fishville, or other games via lead generation practices. As long as you stay away from signing up for questionable services, Farmville is fun and safe to play. To give he Facebook people credit, they’ve been responding to the issues.
Getting back to the fun of Farmville, here’s a picture of my farm. I’m trying for the European villa look, but I got distracted by the Roswell specials, as well as the festival specials. I like the look of my orchard, which rings the farm. I like my big pond and my little pond. I like the science fiction touch. It’s a fantasy farm, so all my animals roam freely, and there’s no mess and no predators. Even the cats are nice to the other animals in my Farmville fantasy!