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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As a writer for a Totally Awesome Gaming Site, you begin to notice patterns in how a community will react to any given news story. For example, whenever we write something about social media, Facebook, Twitter, FarmVille, or anything along those lines - whether its a news post, a column, or coverage of a panel from a conference - there will almost always be someone who responds in one of the following ways:

"This isn't news."

"God, I hate Facebook."

"FarmVille sucks, it isn't even a game."

"Why are you writing about this?"

Here's the thing, guys: You may hate social media, Facebook games, and their entire wretched ilk. You are perfectly within your rights to dislike these games and the communities around them - but you hating them doesn't mean for a moment that they aren't relevant to society or the gaming industry. Like it or not, games like FarmVille are incredibly relevant to the future of the industry, and they are here to stay.

The world we live in today is increasingly defined by its connectivity. Thanks to micro-blogging like Twitter or Facebook's status updates - and the popularity of smart devices like the iPhone that can update and check your friends' updates on the fly - the Internet is being shaped and changed by the meteoric rise of social platforms. The world we live in today, and the world we'll be living in tomorrow, is a world where Facebook can dethrone even mighty Google as the most-visited site on the web. Naturally, games are following that audience.

It's easy to see why core gamers don't care for FarmVille and the like. Our sense of value is a very specific one, and we're going to want to spend our leisure time and money on something reflecting that. We know that we'd rather spend our time on an action-packed thrill ride like Uncharted 2 instead of planting virtual crops.

But even as gaming becomes more and more popular, there are hundreds of millions in the world who don't game because there's such a huge barrier to entry. There's a financial hurdle - dropping a few hundred on a console plus games and accessories is a bit more than an impulse buy for many people - and then there's a matter of complexity. Not only is the controller horrendously complicated for a non-gamer, but the games themselves aren't much better. How many times have you seen a non-gaming friend get into a multiplayer match in Halo and then completely lose focus, running around firing wildly up into the air?

Nintendo has made inroads into reducing any barriers this console generation, and it's paid off tremendously. But let's get a matter of perspective: Look at the estimated 67 million Wii units Nintendo has shipped since 2006, and then realize that 67 million people play Zynga-developed Facebook games like FarmVille every single day.

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