OP/ED: Farmville Ghettos -- The New Reality in Farmville

The English Countryside

The addition of the English Countryside farm in the game could not have come at a better time, because the additions of the Duck Pond, the green house, and the Sheep and Pig Pens meant that farmers would need a place to put those elements of their game -- and so it is not surprising that the majority of gamers ended up deploying these game features on their second farms in the English Countryside as a result. The fact that this was the first evidence of the trend to ghettoize the game that was rapidly appearing can be ignored for the moment -- because like the "Home Farm" this new English farm has a catch to it as well...

It is first-instinct for gamers to work towards making the best show that they can of the game resources that are available to them, so naturally like with their home farm, the process of expanding the size and capabilities of their new English farm began. But when they reached the point where it approaches maximum size, like the home farm the final pair of expansions cannot be obtained using the free Farm Coins, being what can only be called Premium Content.

The 30x30 tile English County expansion costs 195 Famville Bucks, while the 32x32 tile Chipper Farm is 215 Farmville Bucks. To put that in perspective for you, 25 Farmville Bucks costs $5 USD of real life money, or .20 cents per Farmville Buck. In order to obtain the Chipper Farm for your English Farm you must first have unlocked the English County size expansion, because that is how it works. So the real-world price for expanding your farm to Chipper size (32x32 tiles) works out to a hit on your wallet of $82 USD!

Game play in Farmville often lends itself to creative expression in farm design and layout, a trend that has been encouraged by developer Zynga, who regularly features screenshots of the creative decoration efforts of players on the official home page for the game. Pictured here is the creation of a very large 'ghost' from the video game Pacman created using special pink, white, and blue hay bales, decorative objects obtained from the Landscaping Section of the in-game Farmville Market.

N ow if you made the same expansion choices for your Home farm, you spent $76 USD to obtain the Lush Spread, and as a gamer who will obtain the expansions on the one will likely do so on the other, we end up with a total of $158 USD just to provide the room required to keep pace with the expanded content in the game. And that was before Zynga introduced the newest breeding and collection options, the Cow Pasture, Horse Paddock, and Livestock Pens.

What has not been mentioned up to now is the other content expansions that also require more space, like the crafting system that includes a large-footprint building like the winery, bakery, or health spa, a separate crafting barn, and crafts storage silo, along with the structures that peripherally support those content systems -- orchards for your trees that directly provide crafting resources, and of course the farm field plots upon which you grow your crops -- remember the crops? This is a farming game after all!

All of these expansions to content adds things for the gamers to do -- so large a number of different things that most gamers find themselves overwhelmed by the variety of choices, and have to decide upon one or two paths to pursue while they temporarily ignore the others -- a choice that does not properly play into the whole success and bragging rights program at all.

On the heels of the most recent real-estate eating content expansions in the game, Zynga has released yet another farm for the gamers to play upon -- Lighthouse Cove -- which presents an idyllic Maine farming scene by the seaside. The addition of this new farm could not have been timed better, because the new content in the game requires more real estate to place it upon, and low! Here is more farm space to use! What could be better?

In addition to introducing special events that allowed gamers to help out when natural disasters like the Tsunami in Japan and Earthquake in Haiti by making micro-donations through the game, Zynga has allowed Farmville to be used to promote the work of artists like singer/songwriter and entertainer Lady Gaga, whose Born this Way album was promoted in the game with special crops and events, as well as special items that gamers could unlock by completing missions in the game.

Zynga included unlockable tokens that allowed gamers to listen to the songs from the album, and promoted the combined events with a uniquely entertaining video (embedded above) that presented Lady Gaga as a bigger-than-life character.

Posted: 28th Sep 2011 by Heather Savage
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