I have to ask, what are 19,786,120 million people (as of Oct 2, 2009) doing playing Farmville on Facebook each day? What is the attraction? What makes a person want to spend minutes, perhaps hours of their day choosing the type of tomatoes to grow on their virtual farm?
Ask the people at California-based Zynga, the company which created the Farmville – currently the most popular game on Facebook with over 19 million daily users, and nearly 130 million monthly users across all Zynga social media games.
People want to unwind, people like games, and even more importantly, people like to play with their friends. Enter social media games.
Not only have they created simple games that people like, but, according to gamesbrief.com, Zynga has done two key things to keep players returning to their games.
1. Virality: Farmville is spreading like a gamer pandemic, the speed of which is surprising even its creators. Farmville encourages you to send gifts to your friends, gifts that are actually thinly disguised invitations to play. And those gifts are valuable – an expensive animal can make your farm better. If you receive a lovely fat cow as a gift from your friend, don’t you think it would be nice to gift them in return?
Your farm benefits from being surrounded by friendly neighbours – so asking your friends to till the land next to yours is going to take your farm to the next level. Once you have recruited your friends to Farmville, they will ask their friends and on it goes. Pretty soon we’ll see the first case of an employee getting fired for harvesting his corn when he should have been harvesting sales.
2. Stickiness: Where it gets sticky is how Farmville keeps players coming back. To have a successful farm, you need to return to the game frequently, or God forbid your crops will wither and die, and how would that look to your friends? So each morning you wake, do a quick check on your crops, gift a few friends and continue on. After work, with dinner simmering, you’re back on the farm seeing whether your friends have moved in next door, and if they haven’t, why not? The game is fun, but it gets even better once it’s shared with friends.