Farmville Success – An evaluation


OK…It’s official now. I’m SERIOUSLY addicted to Farmville and there is no denying the fact now. Howmuchsoever I tried to resist this game by blocking all Farmville updates or ridiculing my friends who have been playing it during work hours, but ever since I went to this app with a thought to just have a casual glance on this thingy called Farmville, there has been no turning back. This game is really addictive and I think after a long time I’ve become crazy for any game like this. Yes, when I had opened my Facebook account, I definitely enjoyed few apps but beyond those initial ones, rest I just visited more from a purpose of checking those out. But Farmville is a different story all together, the devotion is so much so that every night when I come back from work the first thing which I do is check out on my crops and harvest the ready ones. And I think I am still not as compulsive user as some of my friends are, someone now dreams of gaining XPs whereas someone wakes up at midnight to harvest his crop, there is one who smsed me his Facebook password to harvest as he was stuck in a long meeting and one who called up and shared the password so that I can harvest his ready crops as he himself was travelling out. Such is the user-involvement in this game!

No wonder Farmville has got 58+ million active users (as on 14th Oct’09) and it has been topping the list of social games ever since its launch on 19th June’2009.


Image Source: Gamasutra

Close to 60 million users in just 4 months??? That’s really some statistics in the history of social games! So, what could be the reason for this historical success of the game? Well, there are actually many but I think the key reasons which can be attributed towards the phenomenal success of this game are:

  • Engaging/Stickiness: Oh, this game is really sticky to its core and this is one of the biggest reasons for so much of repeat visits to this app. You buy crops with Farmville coins, sow them in your farm and if you do not return to your farm on time, your crops wither and die. That’s a loss of money and negative impact on your balance! So, one has to return to this game again & again if you want to make more or do not want to lose your money there. A lovely way to keep the users engaged.

  • Networking: With Farmville on Facebook, there is a possibility of networking within a networking site. You can ask your friends to be your neighbors in farm and there are different ways by which you can visit your neighbors and earn reward points in the game. So having neighbors is advantageous and within social networking arena of Facebook, it gives you another chance of farm networking by interacting and helping your friends. Now I do get actual messages like, “visit my farm as I’ve revamped it completely” or “check out the new tractor and decorations on my farm” 🙂

  • Viral: It spreads like crazy in your community and there are many interesting reasons for the same, be it free gifts which you send or receive from your friends and later can use those to make money, sharing the wealth of your success or helping stray animals, all have some rewards attached which motivates you to spread the word more and more. You automatically end up doing these making this game truly viral in every way.

  • Communication: Zynga content guys definitely know the art of communication, each action has a prompt for communication and most of it is in either such an interesting language or are encouraging announcements of your advancements that you actually end up publishing your updates to your friends. And these updates act nothing less than a trigger to your friend to go and do some more farming in their farms.

  • Design and innovation: I personally love the UI of this game, I mean the colors and graphics of those fully grown crops definitely give you joy of a different kind. To add to that, constant innovation by Zynga team in terms of new farm additions like those beautiful flowers, Indian flag etc. or themes like the Halloween ones are nice additions for the users.

  • Monetization: Farmville is not just another free social game, it has got a well planned monetization strategy in place too. And by money I don’t mean Farmville coins or cash, I definitely mean hard cash in terms of real $. Thanks to the addiction of this game that once players are hooked on to it, they actually end up spending “real” money in buying “virtual” goods. On any given day 500,000 tractors (which are $20 “virtual” Farmville tractors) are sold on Farmville. No wonder, Zynga the company behind Farmville is making good money and has been profitable every month since September 2007.

Last but not the least, I’m wondering if success of Farmville has some connection with users’ psychography too? The fact that quite many Farmville users are actually Indians, makes me think if it has something to do with roots of Indians being in farming and agriculture? Also in other countries too, amidst all hectic life and work stress people are heading towards peaceful farms in reality, so is setting up a virtual farm somewhere helping them relive the same experiences online too? Has Farmville’s growth got anything to do with user’s inclination towards pastoral lives and is it serving “this” intrinsic need in the virtual world?