The game originally launched on Facebook, and shut down at the end of 2020—another victim of the pandemic, I suppose, though only because Facebook decided to stop supporting Flash-based games.
That was the same year that Demon’s Souls came out, as well as Borderlands, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The same year as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Dragon Age: Origins.
Alongside titles like this, Farmville was a rather shabby little thing, but it still managed to accrue over 83 million monthly users by March of 2010.
Now Zynga is betting the farm once again, this time on a revamped, graphically superior “next-gen” Farmville 3 that launched today pretty much out of the blue Thursday.
Here’s the gratingly wholesome, deeply cheesy launch trailer:
The big question, of course, is whether there is very much room for Farmville 3 in today’s mobile landscape. Facebook games aren’t gone entirely, but they’ve largely been supplanted by touch-screen mobile titles. And while Zynga used to be the king of copying (or acquiring) successful mobile and Facebook titles, today the company is just one among many.
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The competition is steep, with myriad similar strategy games to choose from, including massively successful titles like Hay Day from Supercell. Mobile tastes have also shifted, with games like Clash of Clans and Arena of Valor dominating mobile revenue charts.
Farmville 2: Country Escape came out all the way back in 2014, with Farmville 2: Tropical Escape landing on mobile devices two years later. Neither was the smash success of the original.
Farmville 3 launched today on iOS, Android and Apple M1 devices. It boasts a number of new features that set it apart from previous entries in the series including:
- Variety of animals – Collect, breed and nurture more than 150 breeds of animals, ranging from the mainstay chickens and cows to the exotic tigers and fluffy alpacas
- Diverse farmhands – Meet 30 characters with handy skills – such as baking, fishing, lumberjacking and crafting – that will assist you on your farm-building journey
- A living, breathing world – Control weather patterns with dynamic in-game mechanics to speed up your crop growth, catch more fish or earn more coins
- Fully customizable environment – Dress your farmhands in seasonal outfits such as a pumpkin costume for Halloween or add a personal touch to your farm, animal house or vehicle by picking from a plethora of themed design options such as modern or Victorian decor
- Neighborly social gameplay features – Form your own “co-op” to exchange goods with other players and cooperate to win events and unique decorations
The question is whether this will resonate with modern gamers. How much will nostalgia factor in to the game’s success? In a way, Farmville does feel nostalgic at this point, reminding us of simpler times when there were far fewer games to choose from, when iPhones and touchscreen devices were all still novel and unfamiliar. When the word “app” just meant “appetizer.”
But Zynga isn’t relying on the past to create success in the present. Farmville 3 is a “live-service” title, and players can expect continuous content updates to keep things fresh, as well as mini-games like pig races, hot air balloon rides and dynamic weather events.
Zynga found Mark Pincus envisions the game growing into something with its own metaverse, akin to Fortnite or Roblox. “From the very first time I thought of FarmVille,” Pincus told TechCrunch, “I thought that could be the beginning of the metaverse where you could start with a square plot of dirt and build that into a persistent connected world. That was my original vision for Zynga and social gaming, so I’ll leave that possibility open.”
Zynga plans to monetize the game through ads and in-app purchases. The company has set its sights on generating $100 million over the next five years. Only time will tell if the game will be a success.