FarmVille is an agriculture-simulation social network game developed and published by Zynga in 2009. It is similar to Happy Farm, Farm Town, and video games such as the Story of Seasons series. Its gameplay involves various aspects of farmland management, such as plowing land, planting, growing, and harvesting crops, harvesting trees and raising livestock. FarmVille 2, the sequel, was released in September 2012.
The game is available as an Adobe Flash application via the social-networking website Facebook and Microsoft's MSN Games. It was previously available as a mobile app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad for a brief period in 2010. The game is free-to-play; however, to progress quickly within the game, players are encouraged to spend Farm Cash (in FarmVille) or Farm Bucks (in FarmVille 2), which are purchasable with real-world currency.
After launching on Facebook in 2009, FarmVille became the most popular game on the site, and held that position for over two years. At its peak, in March, 2010, the game had 83.76 million monthly active users. Daily active users peaked at 34.5 million. After 2011, the game began experiencing a considerable decline in popularity. By May 2012, the game was still ranked as the seventh most popular Facebook game. As of April 30, 2016, its rank had fallen to the one-hundred-and-tenth most popular Facebook game as measured by daily active users, while FarmVille 2 had climbed to forty-second.
Once players begin a farm, they first create a customizable avatar, which may be changed at any point.
The player begins with an empty farm and a fixed starting number of Farm Coins, the primary currency in the game. Players also earn XP (experience points) for performing certain actions in the game such as plowing land or buying items. At certain XP benchmarks, the player's level rises. As the player obtains more items and progresses through levels, crops and animals become available to them via the "market" where items can be purchased using either Farm Coins or Farm Cash. Farm Cash is earned by leveling up or completing offers, or purchased for real money.
The main way a player earns Farm Coins, the less-important of the two in-game currencies, is through harvesting crops or visiting their neighbors. The player does this by paying coins for plowing a unit of land. This readies the land for planting seeds, which will eventually be harvested after a set amount of time. The amount of time it takes for a crop to mature, and how much money a crop yields when harvested, is dependent on the crop planted and is noted on its entry in the "market" dialog. They will wither, or they will be of no use when a crop-specific amount of time has elapsed, the amount of time being equal to 2.5 times the amount of time taken to grow the crop (for example, crops which take 8 hours to grow will wither after 2.5×8=20 hours). However, a player can use Farm Cash (purchasable with real-world cash) to purchase an "unwither" to rejuvenate the crops or can use a biplane with "instant grow" to cause crops to be immediately available for harvest. Although the biplane can be purchased with coins, this special feature is only available for Farm Cash. As a player levels up more, crops with a higher payoff and economy will become available. Sometimes a crop will need a permit that costs Farm Cash in order to be planted.
A player may also buy or receive from friends livestock and trees or bushels, such as cherry trees or chickens, which do not wither but instead become ready for harvest for preset amounts of money a set amount of time from their last harvest. Trees and livestock cannot die.
Like most Zynga games, FarmVille incorporates the social networking aspect of Facebook into many areas of gameplay. Contacting other players allows you to improve your farm more quickly, by using their help as farmhands or by gaining rewards from helping them. Often the aid of other players is a substitute for Farm Cash, the game's purchasable in-game currency, giving players an effective choice between spamming their friends with FarmVille messages and requests, or paying real-world cash. Recently FarmVille has allowed players to add neighbors that are not Facebook friends, thus allowing the player to have many neighbors at hand. Players invite friends or other players that are not Facebook friends to be their neighbors, allowing them to perform five actions on each other's farms per day by "visiting" it. Neighbors may also send gifts and supplies to each other, complete specialized tasks together for rewards, and join "co-ops" - joint efforts to grow a certain amount of certain crops. Gifts are sent as mystery gifts with expensive, but random items, special deliveries with building supplies, or by choosing a particular item to send. They cost the sending user nothing. For FarmVille's 2nd birthday, a series of different mystery gifts were added to the Gifts Page.
Decorations can be purchased in the market for coins or game-cash or can be sent in the form of free gifts. Decorations include many items like buildings, hay bales, fences, nutcrackers, gnomes, flags and more. There are sometimes limited edition items celebrating themes such as Valentine's Day, Halloween, winter holidays and the like. Decorations also give experience points (XP) depending on the cost. On occasion, Zynga will bring back formerly discontinued decorations for sale for a limited time period.
The two main in-game currencies, Farm Coins and Farm Cash (in FarmVille) or Farm Bucks (in FarmVille 2), are available for purchase from Zynga with real-world money. Coins can also be "earned" within the game by completing tasks or selling crops, and can be spent on basic in-game items such as seeds. Farm Cash and Farm Bucks are more difficult to acquire within the game, and cannot be earned within the farm's economic system, only by special actions like leveling up or completing tasks. Farm Cash and Farm Bucks provide a route to acquire further in-game items, such as additional animals for the farm, or to acquire in-game resources like animal feed, water, fuel and power, which are otherwise slow and/or laborious for players to acquire.
FarmVille has added numerous expansions over the game's lifetime, where players farm in new locales that include England, Hawaii, Japan, Atlantis, Winter holiday locations, Australia and more. As of 2014, FarmVille is releasing a new farm approximately every six weeks.
Despite the initial success of the game, it has received a negative reaction from critics, video game designers, and personalities. Time magazine called the game one of the "50 Worst Inventions" in recent decades due to it being "the most addictive of Facebook games" and a "series of mindless chores on a digital farm".
In a December 2010 interview with Gamasutra, game designer and programmer Jonathan Blow criticized FarmVille for being designed to create an atmosphere of negativity, requiring an unprecedented commitment to the game, and encouraging users to exploit their friends.
Martha Stewart criticized the game on several episodes of her television series Martha. Stewart's argument touched upon the notion that FarmVille was an excuse for fans of the game, among her staff and audience, to waste their time on virtual farming instead of actual gardening.
FarmVille occasionally runs in-game partnerships where users can visit another company's virtual farm and buy or receive items with their brand logo. For example, as of June 9, 2011, users could get free McDonald's hot air balloons, McCafe products and the ability to visit McDonald's' virtual farm. Other brand partnerships include Minion, Frito Lay, Capitol One, American Express, Lady Gaga, Rio (the motion picture), Haiti Relief Fund, Discover Card, Cascadian Farm, Megamind, Farmers Insurance, Microsoft Bing, and 7-Eleven. FarmVille also offers engagement advertising where users can interact with a brand in exchange for free Farm Cash through an ad platform called SVnetwork
FarmVille released an animated short titled A Very FarmVille Christmas in December 2011.
On June 26, 2012, FarmVille 2 was unveiled, and was subsequently released in September 2012. It differs from the original FarmVille in a number of ways:
- Graphics are more animated and in perspective projection, rather than the isometric projection of the original, and is powered by the Flare3D game engine.
- The crop-growing cycle is plant–water–wait–harvest—there is no need to plow previously used plots before using them again. In order to water, the player must have adequate water available. Water is automatically credited to the player at intervals up to a maximum capacity, and can also be obtained from wells or received from friends. Trees must also be watered before they will produce fruit.
- Harvested crops and other resources no longer immediately credit the player with coins; rather, they go to the player's inventory. These stored resources can then be sold for coins or used to craft goods. Most crops (but not crafted goods or animal resources) can also be used to make animal feed, which must be given to animals in order that they will produce resources.
FarmVille 2: Country Escape
FarmVille 2: Country Escape for mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows operating systems) was released on April 10, 2014, and received a positive review from The New York Times. Unlike other games in the FarmVille series, FarmVille 2: Country Escape can be played offline.
In 2012, Zynga, in conjunction with Hasbro, released several kids' "Animal Games" based on FarmVille under the "Hasbro Gaming" imprint. These include versions of Memory (in a "Disco Dancing Sheep" pouch), Go Fish (in a "Groovy Chicken" pouch), Old Maid (in a "Rockstar Cow" pouch), and Hungry Hungry Herd (a redux of Hungry Hungry Hippos with the characters Gobbling Horse, Munching Pig, Snacking Sheep and Chomping Cow replacing the Hippos in the original game).
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