Am I still talking about FarmVille?
Well, it is still a fact of life in the gaming ecosystem that over 60 million people are still playing FarmVille, even if people are still discussing what it is all about, and it is making money, purportedly a lot of it.
And the revenue generation aspect of FarmVille, or any other free to play game, is something I find interesting. There seems to be such a fine balance between making a game too accessible, leading to nobody paying for it, and making cash items a requirement, likely driving off a good chunk of your audience prematurely.
One of the things that the Zynga people talked about at GDC this year was the shame factor in FarmVille.
In the game, you can plant crops and harvest them to make money. Different crops have different durations to mature, at which point you reap that which you have sewn, collecting the cash right on the spot.
However, your crops can also expire if you leave them in the ground too long. There is a window of time after they mature when you must harvest, otherwise your crops will wither.
And the people at Zynga are convinced that having withered crops on the farm… and the graphics are depressingly 1930s Dustbowl in design… will embarrass people, and serve as a spur both to play the game and spend money on it.
I’m not sure I can get all the way down the path they are trying to lead us, but they believe and are thus focused.
To this end you can buy an unwither spray in the FarmVille market. It costs 10 Farm Cash (the rare, get one per level, gotta pay money if you want any more currency) per application, and given the number of withered crops I’ve seen, I am going to guess it isn’t a best seller. Too much other stuff is only available via Farm Cash and you can always plow over withered crops and start again.
But what if you chronically let your crops wither on the vine. What if you really are embarrassed to have your friends see your fields strewn with dead plant.
Then Zynga has a limited time offer for you!
For only 250 Farm Cash you can buy the Unwither Ring!
What is the Unwither Ring?
Yes, with this item, your crops will never die on the vine again when you forget to harvest. Shamed no more!
And how much will 250 Farm Cash run you in the real world?
Well, 240 Farm Cash will run you $40 and, assuming that you have saved another 10 Farm Cash out of the singles you get every level, you might be covered. If not, well, you’ll have to kick in at least another $5, and if you’re already going that far, why not go to the $50 mark and have some extra Farm Cash around for the next item?
But you’re probably going to have to invest at least $40 to get this ring. And hurry, it is only available for two more days.
Is it worth the money? Not to me, but when I bother to plant crops in FarmVille, I never let them wither. OCD FTW!
And I have to think that the obsessive FarmVille players, the ones that have installed the FarmVille tool bar on their browser that tells them when crops are ready, probably won’t feel the need either. And they seem like the type most likely to spend the cash.
So who is the target for this item really? Who lets their crops die but wants to spend money on the game?
I guess there is a certain amount of pressure removed from your life if you do not have to worry about your crops withering. But if FarmVille is causing stress in your life, perhaps it isn’t the right game for you.
Do you know anybody who has the Unwither Ring?
Is anybody really embarrassed when their crops wither in FarmVille?
What would you expect to get for $40 in a free to play game?