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on Jul 1st 2013
The FarmVille game series began with the original game that gave the series its name: FarmVille.
Developed by game studios at Zynga and launched in 2009 on the Facebook Games Platform, FarmVille enjoys the unique position of being one of the most popular games on the social networking site, largely due to its almost perfect encapsulation of a proper mixture of risk vs. reward, immediate self-gratification in the form of a mixture of pay-for-progress and mini-transactions using real-world money, the makers of FarmVille hit upon a formula that worked very well indeed.
At least part of the secret to the success of the game has to do with the fact that it can be played without spending a single penny, with considerable satisfaction, and unlike the vast majority of other games within its economics model, it can be played for free and remain a competitive gaming experience!
The difference between free play and paid play has more to do with prestige and bragging rights, access to rare and special animals and crops, and the sense within the community of privilege when a player (called Farmers) manages to quickly advance their farm and expand their farming capabilities.
While FarmVille as a series is very similar to older and more traditional game titles - the Harvest Moon series immediately springs to mind - its focus was originally clearly fixed upon Crops and farming, but slowly over the course of its first two years the game expanded to include incredibly popular elements like farm animals, crafting, and collections. It was this expansion, along with a great deal of care and attention being shown towards the basic mechanisms of farm management, the planting, growing, and harvesting of crops (and later still trees), and the raising of livestock (farm animals) that delivered it success.
In addition to a wide assortment of collections and mini-collection activities, the wizards behind the series successfully incorporated Garden Gnomes to such an extent that it is said that the game single-offhandedly revived the fortunes of pottery concerns from Wales to Bavaria, making the silly little buggers popular even for households that do not have a garden!
The Direct Sequel: FarmVille 2
Launched in September 2012, FarmVille 2 is a perfect example of a game sequel in which the studio and its crack team of code wizards chose to listen to and address the desires of its audience (gamers) rather than go their own way (which is all too often the case these days), with the result being an almost perfect union of the reinterpretation of the existing game model with a long and bloody list of desired enhancements from the audience.
Following in the footsteps of its namesake and retaining the Flash-based animation engine upon which it thrives, FV2 redefined its own genre by taking a tighter and closer embrace of the player, bringing the point-of-view in closer (though not too close) and leveraging all of the good aspects and none of the bad from the previous title.
While it was briefly supported on mobile platforms including iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, it quickly became obvious that this was truly not the future of the game, and its core development retreated back to the PC and the social-networking platform at Facebook upon which the Farmville Empire was originally founded, though with an added capability to play the game directly from the game servers at Zynga, neatly carving out the Facebook interface for gamers who prefer it that way.
While it is still classified as a "freemium game" - meaning while there really is no mandatory cost in order to play the game - players will quickly discover that having the option of purchasing not just the extra resources that take the role of "turns" or "moves" merely scratches the surface in the FV universe, as it is the other premium content in the form of special and rare animals, structures, and capabilities in which the paid-portion truly shines.
Unlike the vast majority of similar games and its competition in the tightly defined genres that make up freemium gaming, Zynga shrewdly avoided the move-based economy that dominates the genres (and is largely responsible for failure when failure happens for these games), eschewing that in favor of a more honest and far more workable time-based system that has a much brisker and more fluid pace.
The "moves" system has been substituted for a resource + time based system that makes use of a resource-centric mechanism that is typified as Water Resource Units, Power Resources Units, Animal Feed Resource Units, and Fertilizer Resource Units - WRU's, PRU's, AFRU's, and FRU's respectively - with the Feed and Fertilizer requiring special actions on the part of the player in order to renew its supply, while the WRU's and PRU's recharge over time on a 3-minute basis.
While FarmVille was once the single most popular Facebook game, it has recently been said to be in decline in its popularity - however the statistical data does not support that claim, rather it appears that the "decline" is actually a product of more active competition and a wider variety of games and gaming options now available on the Facebook Game Platform.
Ironically when the top ten games viewed as being direct competition for the Farmville Series are tallied up, the first six positions are filled by games also created and operated by Zynga! FarmVille and its sequel remain a powerhouse of a games environment on the Facebook platform.
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