Farmville- the Facebook game that millions love
(CNN) — Early each morning, millions of farmers around the world rise to toil in their fields. By night, gangs of mobsters scheme and legions of poker players shuffle up and deal.
Sure, none of it’s real. But the overwhelming popularity of so-called social gaming — simple games that let people play with their friends on networking sites such as Facebook — is changing the face of video games, experts say.
And as the maker of popular titles like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, San Francisco, California-based Zynga has ridden the games’ skyrocketing popularity to the top of that emerging market.
For Zynga founder Mark Pincus, the formula for gaming success on Facebook, MySpace and other sites was as simple as it might seem counterintuitive: create simple games that people like but can easily set aside.
“We built the games so they could be played in a tab on your browser while you’re on a conference call,” said Pincus, a veteran Web entrepreneur who created Zynga in 2007.
Of course, they’ve been helped by the massive growth of Facebook, where the games are so popular they’ve spawned “fan” pages devoted to complaining about having to watch friends play them.
Facebook, with its 400 million users, is where the vast majority of people play FarmVille and Mafia Wars along with other Zynga titles like FishVille, Vampires, Café World, YoVille and Zynga Poker.
In all, more than 65 million people play Zynga games every day, according to media tracking company Developer Analytics.
Zynga’s top title, FarmVille, is played by an estimated 75 million people each month — roughly equal to the number who have played the classic arcade and desktop game Tetris during its entire existence.
The massive growth was satisfying but not altogether surprising to Pincus, whose previous startups had included Freeloader, a Web-based information-gathering service; tech-support company SupportSoft; and Tribe.net, an early social networking site from 2003.
“Video games actually appealed to a huge cross-section. They appealed to everybody,” said Steinberg, publisher of DigitalTrends.com. “What happened is, as we went through the mid-’80s to the mid-2000s, you started to see gaming become more incestuous in terms of 18- to 34-year-old males making games for people just like them.”
By contrast, three of Zynga’s top five games — FarmVille, Café World and FishVille — have mostly female players, with many players outside the traditional 18- to 34-year-old range.
Those games all operate on the same basic premise. Starting with a simple farm, fish tank or restaurant, the player works to make it bigger and fancier, sharing items with friends and helping each other along the way.
Some of Zynga’s early titles simply mirrored existing board and card games. It was Mafia Wars — in which players team up to whack other gangs — that first exhibited what would become the hallmarks of social gaming: simple, single-player action that’s enhanced by teamwork.
With FarmVille, that formula would become complete.
Players plant virtual crops that can be harvested hours, or days, later. Along the way, they invite online friends to become their neighbors and help each other by sending gifts or helping with the farming. There’s no way to “win,” but players take satisfaction in building big, fancy farms that they can showcase to their friends.
“A farm is something that is internationally understood and known. It’s cross-cultural, cross-gender, cross-age,” Pincus said. “A great social game should be like a great cocktail party. If you want it to appeal to absolutely everyone you invite, it has to be broad in its content so that everyone gets it.”
photo from here
I have to admit I got hooked.. Farmville was so popular, even the young at hearts play it.. Employees and bosses became farm neighbors, asking for presents and attending to farm needs.. I had my share of sleepless nights too..but I had stopped.. Some ‘good’ things just had to end.. But yes, I miss my farm!