View From the Road

A View From the Road: FarmVille Isn't Going Away

John Funk | 12 Apr 2010 17:00
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The difference in scale is so staggering that it's hard to wrap one's mind around it. We gamers proudly tout the triumph of Modern Warfare 2 as the biggest entertainment launch in human history, selling roughly 10 million copies in the US, but that number is dwarfed next to the hundreds of millions that regularly play Zynga games every month. How can any rational person look at those numbers and somehow think that they are irrelevant? Is there nothing to learn from Facebook?

And that's the thing, too: Game developers are looking at Zynga and its games for tips. The Facebook developer was the talk of the town at this year's GDC (as the Wii had been years before), and its Vice President Bill Mooney was invited to give the keynote at the upcoming GDC Canada in May. With the size of their audience, is it any wonder? Developers of traditional games would probably kill to have the success in reaching out to non-core gamers, because it's a market that remains almost completely untapped (other than, you know, Zynga). Plus, there's probably something attractive in marketing games to a segment of the population that hears "piracy" and thinks of Johnny Depp instead of stealing games.

FarmVille won't be king forever. Facebook won't be, either - remember how MySpace was the social networking king half a decade ago? But even if these individual platforms and games die out, the idea of social media is here to stay. Not only that, but it will be most likely become more ubiquitous, as our society grows ever more connected. Even if it's something so simple as maintaining a presence on Twitter and Facebook - or whatever site comes next - there are plenty of lessons that game companies are trying to learn from the rise of social media.

Yes, we know that Zynga has done some shady things, but this isn't about its ethical practices (or lack thereof) - they don't even enter into the picture here. Nor is anybody saying that you have to play FarmVille, or even that you have to like it - hell, you couldn't get me to play it unless you paid me! But to loudly proclaim that there's nothing relevant or important or newsworthy about what's going on in the social media space just because it isn't of interest to you just comes off like somebody sticking his fingers in his ears and loudly crowing: "LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAAAAAR YOU!"

If you saw somebody doing that in public in real life, you'd think that they were mind-blowingly juvenile. Singing "LA LA LA" on internet forums is no different.

John Funk does like Twitter, but keeps forgetting to log into Facebook.

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