Unless you were born in a virtual cabbage patch, you know what Farmville is. With well over 80 million players, 32 million who play the game everyday, it’s the number one game on Facebook. But did you know it wasn’t the first farming game on the social networking website?
According to Game Informer magazine, Farmville is an obvious rip-off of its predecessor and biggest competitor Farm Town, which came out in 2009. Both games look and feel amazingly similar. But if they’re so much alike, why has Farmville overtaken Farm Town as the most popular farming simulator?
First, here are a few facts about the farming king:
* It was designed and developed in only five weeks
* It had 18,000 users in it’s first day of release
* It wasn’t promoted at all
If you look closely at the two games and play long enough to get familiar with them, you’ll see they aren’t so much alike. Sure, they both allow you to plant and harvest crops. And they both let you create a little farmer avatar. But there’s not much else that’s similar.
One of the biggest differences between the two is that Farmville is constantly adding things. Here’s what I mean: you finally get all the materials you need to build your horse stable. Once you get all 20 of your horses in it, you begin to get bored with the game. That’s when Zynga, the makers of Farmville, alert you when you log on the next time that you can now collect materials to build an animal nursery. Plus, when there is a problem, the developers are quick to get to work on it and let the players know by posting small messages at the top of the game page. In all the time I’ve been a Farm Town player, I’ve never received any messages from the developers, not to mention there hasn’t been but one addition to the game since I started.
Another difference is the animals. The animals in Farm Town are cute but guess what? You can’t do anything with them but let them run aimlessly around your farm, put then in a fence, or pet them. They serve no real purpose other than being cool decorations. With Farmville it’s different. To begin with, there are more animal choices. But most importantly, they actually help you grow your farming empire by producing things. Cows give milk; you get hair from horses, eggs from chickens and so on. The cats even give hair!
The only thing Farm Town seems to be better at is the social aspect. You can go to the market and sell your stuff. But you can also let people know you’re willing to work their farms and they’ll hire you. Of course, you can also just stand around in the market and chat with all your farmer friends.
The bottom line is that Farmville is more interactive, keeps you interested with new things, and the developers seem to care. Farm Town does seem to be catching on to what Farmville is doing, but they have a way to go to catch up. For now, aside from the social part, playing Farm Town seems like you’re stuck out in some far away place with useless animals in a dead end job. Maybe they should rename it to Farm Zone—the Twilight Zone of virtual farming.