The rise and fall of Zynga's Farmville

Kuldeep
Farmville was the most played Facebook game in 2010
Farmville was the most played Facebook game in 2010

Everybody has played or heard of Farmville at some point in their life. Now a part of a distant memory for most, Farmville was once ruling the gaming market. Farmville was an agriculture-simulation game that appealed to every age group as all its elements were very plain and easy to grasp. The game not only shot its parent company Zynga to stardom it also created a trend of Facebook games.

At its peak in 2010, the game had 83.76 million monthly users, which is insane considering gaming was not mainstream by any means at that period. Farmville was the most popular game on Facebook for two years straight, and at one point was averaging 34.5 million daily users. However, as the popular saying goes, “What goes up must come down,” Farmville has fallen off the charts now. By the end of 2016, its rank had fallen to being the one-hundred-and-tenth most popular Facebook game, and what seemed like an invincible game more than a decade ago, is hardly played anymore. As 2019 is ending, here is a look at the roller-coaster journey of Farmville.

Facebook became a go-to social networking website

Farmville was released on Facebook
Farmville was released on Facebook

Most of Farmville’s success is directly related to the rise of Facebook back in 2009. As Facebook became the premier destination for social networking, Farmville caught the eye of many as it was one of the original games on Facebook. Spending time on Facebook was in the trend, and anyone who got bored by just the social networking aspect of the website eventually drifted towards Facebook games. Farmville was in the right place at the right time, and the game’s meteoric rise was imminent. It picked up pace and in no time became the king of Facebook games. Farmville became a great way of passing time and gave users another reason to stay on Facebook.

Facebook games market started to saturate

Zynga released multiple games similar to Farmville
Zynga released multiple games similar to Farmville

As Farmville rose to popularity, many developers tried to replicate the game’s success by releasing their titles on Facebook. Let alone other developers, Zynga itself released a plethora of games on Facebook searching for the next Farmville. Not only did the idea fail, it also affected Farmville’s popularity. Farmville now had competitors, and the game slowly started to lose its grip on the top. Games on Facebook started to cannibalize each other, and it left everyone with very little success at the end.

Microtransactions ruining the fun

Farm cash was mood spoiler
Farm cash was mood spoiler

Even though Farmville was free-to-play, most of the best items in the game were only accessible through Farm Cash (in-game currency). Apart from leveling up (1 FC per level), Farm Cash could only be purchased through real money, except in few cases where Zynga was generous enough to hand Farm Cash for free. This was a huge turnoff for many users, especially in a period where spending real money on online games was looked down upon.

Facebook falling down pecking order

Facebook fall out led to further decline in Farmville's popularity
Facebook fall out led to further decline in Farmville's popularity

What led Farmville to its success was also the reason for its downfall. By 2014, Facebook saw a huge chunk of its population preferring apps such as Instagram and Snapchat over Facebook. Although there was no major dent in the actual population (numbers) of Facebook users, nobody was using the website as extensively as before. This also meant that people were less interested in Facebook games, which caused a lot of harm to Farmville’s popularity. The game’s popularity was already in decline, and the rise of other social networking apps was a huge blow to the game.

The lack of game depth

A very one-dimensional game
A very one-dimensional game

One of the major reasons for Farmville’s downfall was the actual gameplay itself. Farmville felt like a mindless farming simulator after a point rather than an actual game. The game elements quickly became repetitive, and there wasn’t much players could do outside of farming. It lacked any kind of depth and it had nothing that could entice more users. Even when Farmville was at its peak, the game had negative reviews from critics and its popularity was mostly credited to Facebook addiction rather than actual gaming.

Regardless of its downfall, Farmville is still playable on Facebook. There is also a second version of the game which is available on mobile devices. Despite all the ups and down, Farmville defines a generation and will always head the list of Facebook games.

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