In early 2009, when Facebook was still nascent in its efforts to swallow as much of the Internet as possible, online games were not yet what they had become.
Then, he came to Farmville, June. If you weren’t one of the millions of people whacking a cartoon patch of land on Facebook every day, heaping an endless stream of cutesy collectibles, you were still getting copious snakes and elbows from your friends. The game pulled Facebook users into an obsession or constantly reminded them that they were missing one.
The flash-based game created by Zynga, created within Facebook, is shutting down on Thursday – yes, people were still playing it – though its sequels that can be played via the mobile app will remain. But the original FarmVille lives on the behaviors that place it among everyday Internet users and the development-hacking technologies that cater to it, now making a dent in virtually every site, service and app for your attention.
At its peak, the game had 32 million daily active users and approximately 85 million players. It helped change Facebook from a place you went to update – mostly in text form – to a time-eating destination from friends and family.
Mark Pincus, who was then the chief executive of Zynga and is now chairman of its board of directors, said, “We thought of it as a new dimension in your social form, not to bring people to the game.” “I felt, people are just hanging out on these social networks like Facebook, and I want to give them something to do.”
This was partially accomplished by pulling players into ends that were difficult to pull by themselves. If you do not check every day, your crops will wither and die; Some players will set alarms so they don’t forget. If you need help, you can spend real money or send requests to your Facebook friends – a source of annoyance for nonplayers who were surrounded by information and updates in their news feeds.
Ian Bogost, a game developer and professor of Wake Forest, said the behavior that Farmville had normalized made it a moving car for the 2010 Internet economy.
He did not mean it as praise.
The game encouraged people to attract friends to themselves as resources and the service they were using, Mr. Bogost said. It gained attention and encouraged Interaction Loops in a way that is now mimicking everything from Instagram to QAnon.
“The Internet itself is this market of the obsessive world, where the goal is to bring it back, so that it can accomplish what you have to offer, to get your attention and advertise against it or otherwise To get value from the activity “, said.
While other games had made multiple attempts of the same strategy – Mafia Wars was Zynga’s top hit at the time – Farmville was the first to become a mainstream phenomenon. Mr. Pincus said he often had dinner with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and in early 2009 was given advance notice that the platform would soon allow the game to be posted to the user’s news feed. He said that Mr. Zuckerberg told him that Zynga should flood the zone with the new game and that Facebook would delete those that would resonate.
Although at that time farming was far from hot play, Mr. Pincus saw it as a relaxing activity that would appeal to a wider audience, especially among adults and women who had never spent hundreds of dollars on consoles like the Xbox 360. , PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii. It will soon be a preview of the exploding market for mobile games, with casual gamers running away from desktops as smartphones took hold.
Gaming industry was Farmville is always chillyDespite its success. A Zynga executive was booed after accepting an award at the Game Developers Conference in 2010, and Mr Pincus said he had trouble hiring developers who thought his teammates would work on the game Will not respect.
In 2010, Time magazine gave Farmville a name50 worst inventions, “While acknowledging how unique it was but called it” barely a game “.
Business and economy
For many, the game will be remembered more for its presence in people’s news feeds than for sports. Facebook was well aware of the complaints.
After hearing from nonplayers that the game was spam, Facebook banned how many games could post in the news feed and send notifications. Facebook now aims to send fewer notifications when they are more likely to make an impact, said Vivek Sharma, Facebook’s vice president and head of gaming.
He credited Farmville for the rise of social gaming and said that the “saga” on excessive notifications had taught Facebook some important lessons.
“I think people started to explore some deeply behaved things that need to be self-sufficient and healthy for those applications,” he said. “And I think part of it is the idea that people actually have a limit, and this limit changes over time.”
Even if people were upset with the information, there is no doubt that they worked. Scott Koenigsberg, a director of product at Zynga, said the players who sent him requested to be sent.
“Everyone saw a ‘lonely cow’ notification at some point, but they were all being shared by their friends who were playing the game,” he said.
Mia Kansalvo, a professor in sports studies and design at Concordia University in Canada, was among those who saw Farmville in front of her.
“When you log in to Facebook, it happens, ‘Oh, 12 of my friends need help,” she said.
She questioned how social the game really was, arguing that it did not create deep or continuous dialogue.
“The game itself is not promoting a conversation between you and your friends, or encouraging people to spend time together within the sports space,” she said. “It’s really a mechanic of clicking a button.”
But those who went back every day said that it kept them in contact with friends and acquaintances, which got them to talk something.
42-year-old Maurya Sherman, a radio producer in Toronto, said he and a receptionist played together and went to his desk daily to chat about it. He said, “She will tell me about the pink cow I got.”
He enjoyed it as an escape, a virtual stress ball and a soothing activity that would let his mind wander. He said he spent more than $ 1,000 to improve his farm or to save time.
And they were completely guilty of sending the information, he said – but they always succeeded in helping him do what he wanted.
“There are people who will mute you or befriend you just because they were tired of hearing that you need the help of your cows,” he said.
Lancaster, Pa. Jaime Tracy, 59, said she was one of those people who kept asking for help until her friends and relatives called it off.
But she loved the game, which she saw as meditation, and played for over five years. With her children and out of the house, “I had nothing else to do,” she said.
“You can just turn off your mind and plant some carrots,” she said.