« | Home | »

Sure. FarmVille’s All Fun And Games. Until Somebody Makes A Billion Dollars.

Topics: Popular Media | 1 CommentBy admin | June 8, 2010

Game sales have been outstripping music and movie sales for some time, but the real money may be in imaginary money.

If the entertainment industry is still wondering where that billion dollars in lost sales went last year, I think I have an answer for them. FarmVille. Yes, laugh at your Facebook friends as their lonely cows meander through the pasture of your Facebook feed, but Zynga, the developers of the game, banked a cool $270 million last year, and are looking forward to topping ONE BILLION DOLLARS this year. All because your do-nothing crackhead friends couldn’t find anything better to do than plant imaginary corn. But there’s the rub. It wasn’t slacker crackheads that were playing. It was Midwestern housewives. At least that’s how David Laux, global executive for games and interactive entertainment at IBM was quoted in that article. While the real demographic for the boom in this kind of game isn’t literally “Midwestern housewives”, it certainly is a new kind of user, and a new kind of development process. Not surprisingly, the same “traditional” game developers who enjoyed the kind of growth that has led to game sales outstripping movie sales in many countries are a little upset that a company like Zynga is creating the kind of revenue streams that it is, especially with the kinds of games (Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc) and user engagement strategies they utilize. Some developers resort to a bit of hyperbole to express their concern for the “purity” of the industry by saying things like “metrics-driven design and extrinsic rewards for in-game actions could lead to a future of designing shitty games that you have to pay people to play“, when what they may really mean is “dang, I wish I’d thought of that“. There’s no question that this new game market is going to be a big thing for a while, but what I find almost more interesting (and which I touched on earlier this year) is that there’s a second billion dollar industry spinning off of this all, one involving transferring your imaginary money between these booming games and social networks. I personally have never understood the “hook” with games like FarmVille; frankly Facebook itself is like a game to me. But what will catch my attention is an opportunity to get in early on a growing economy, even a virtual one. See you in ProfitsVille!

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Google And The CIA Invest In “Temporal Analytics Engine” at dissociatedpress.com on 07.31.10 9:21 am

    [...] research looking at things that really don’t interest me. So when I write a piece about the billions being made by Farmville, for instance, I then get fed a constant stream of REALLY dumb ads targeting people who play [...]