FarmVille is the fun and incredibly addictive Facebook app/game that just won't quit. With over 60 million active users, it is by far and away the most popular app on Facebook. Users are checking in daily and generating incredible revenues both via affiliate offers via virtual goods and affiliate offers.
Why is FarmVille such a success?
The Game Dynamics of a Cult FarmVille
Like all great experiences based on Game Dynamics, FarmVille is setup
like a cult. It's easy to try and easy to get hooked. You repeat basic meaningless tasks until it becomes a habit. Your first session is instantly rewarding and you feel like you are really great at this. As you progress, you not only engage your friends who support your behavior, but you are constantly tracking your progress. As time goes on each step becomes increasingly more difficult. Six
months later you turn around and you find yourself selling the kool aid to friends and family. And this is when they hit you up for the money.
Best-In-Class Cross Platform Experiences
FarmVille is the penultimate cross platform experience and the case study for building a flexible Facebook driven experience. While users interact with the same core experience in Facebook, on FarmVille.com or on their mobile (iPhone) each platform has it's own unique offerings. Notifications blast out via email, app reminders keep your pocket buzzing and pressure from friends to assist in their farm development keeps users plugged in.
What's next for FarmVille?
Six months later, FarmVille has become a chore for many. Weekend planning includes timing your breaks so that you can harvest your crops before they whither. You already have the largest possible farm and have already invested in self-expression, designing and redesigning your farm, purchasing multiple houses and buildings. And so you begin to burn out. After all, why would you stay?
Just a few months ago FarmVille was clocking in at over 100 million users. They are now down to 60 million, which is itself nothing to sneeze at. In this time Facebook changed their application publishing capabilities, making it harder for apps like FarmVille to flood user's walls with news of their friend's activities. But to be honest, I think those of us who had their fun eventually grew tired. I know I did.
The brilliant marketers at Zynga are continuing to explore the worlds of co-marketing with 7-11, virtual currency gift cards at retail, featured crops with General Mills, sponsored bonuses with Bing, payment with Facebook Credits and mobile with their iPhone app. They are moving forward with innovations at a breakneck speed.
Is this format of simple social gaming really optimal for mass audiences for a prolonged period of time?
Can simple social games maintain their user's interest for more than 4-8 months?
If they can't, how soon is too soon for game developers to begin introducing marketers to the mix?