Taking the Penalties Out of Social Games

Farmville, still the Empress of Social Games, currently has a notice up. It reads:

Hey Farmers! FarmVille is currently experiencing some loading issues. While we work on resolving these technical issues, we have disabled withering and puppy hunger! Thank you for your patience with us during this time.

I would be absolutely fascinated to see what happens to their usage numbers from this. In theory, withering and hunger are the mechanisms that keep people coming back to the game regularly in order to harvest crops and feed dogs. They are, however, very often the mechanic that keep me from playing, since I don't want to come back to withered crops.

Planting a crop costs game money, you see, and if I don't return in the right time slot to harvest that crop, it'll wither, and take my money with it. This also wastes the small amount of money I spent ploughing that plot, plus the fuel for the vehicles that allow me to plough more than one plot at a time. So if I'm not certain that I'll have time and memory to come back to the game at the right point, rather than lose money and fuel, I just don't plant anything. And if I don't plant anything, I... don't log in. If crops didn't wither, I'd come back more often.

We'll see what happens from this. But looking at other social games, I wouldn't be surprised to see the withering mechanism disappear from Farmville in the near future, giving them more visits, and therefore even more revenue.

Posted by Drew Shiel at December 9, 2010 3:03 PM

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