Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pet Society, Farm Town -- Is Facebook invading MMORPG territory?

I have too many other addictions that I cannot accommodate another one. So when I started seeing my friends getting into social games on Facebook I consciously refused to join. Nevertheless, I'm conscious of the craze happening not just locally, but all around the world. Facebook has been invaded by these social games, and users are catching on. Mashable also writes about it also in it's recent blog entry, "Watch Out Nintendo! Social Gaming is Rapidly on the Rise."

Playfish is the publisher of Pet Society, one of the games invading and becoming popular on Facebook. Their website writes: "In Pet Society you can customise your pet any way you want through colours, clothes and fun items like watches and jewellery. You can also decorare your pet's house with furniture and even show off the various awards you have won in the mini-games.
Show your true style together with your friends in Pet Society!"

Here's a cool fan video I found on their site showing Pet Society fashion, an obsession of players, aside from making their houses look pretty.

Why are these games catching on? Here are some of my observations (from a far distance):
  1. Gaming is entertainment: After a while, Facebook users seem to get tired sharing personal stuff and links to their friends, and waiting to see what people post. The games provide users a new form of entertainment without leaving Facebook which has become a favorite online hangout for many.
  2. Gaming is fun when it's social: Player vs. player gaming is competitive in whatever form, and social interaction is always much more fun than playing against a machine.
  3. Gaming is fun when it's free: You don't need to buy credits to play these games. Of course, these games usually have its own economy and currency which sometimes links to real money when you get serious about playing.
  4. Gaming is fun when it looks simple: Cute and simple. That's how games like Pet Society and Farm Town starts. Then you discover what techniques, skills and tactics you need to use to get ahead of the game.
  5. Gaming is fun when you play with people you know: This is what sets these games apart from other MMORPGs. When you create an avatar, it's linked to your Facebook profile. And you see the avatars of your friends who are playing and you instantly know who they are. No need for eyeballs to get to know players. You know them already. And it's easy to invite friends to play: you can share in-game photos (and maybe other things) on your Facebook wall.
Definitely these games do not target the usual online gamers who play fantasy-type games like those of Level Up!'s. Those people are in a world of their own, both literally and figuratively (and I used to be one of them at a certain point in time). But it does appeal to non-hardcore and casual games who find it a novelty and a step up from mere casual gaming.

Is it just a fad? Maybe. Unless these games work hard to keep gaming interesting for long-time players. Maybe more interesting games will follow. Or maybe hard-core gaming on Facebook is not so far away. Now that will depend on how far Flash technology or how other more-powerful platforms will integrate with Facebook in the future.

One this is for sure though: Facebook will remain to be a favorite online hangout if they continue making it interesting for users. I wonder how marketers will follow this trend. Any predictions? I welcome your comments.

I will leave you with some Farm Town images from David W. Boles on his Farm Town review blog post.

Boles writes on his blog:

"You will be stunned by the gameplay and addicted to the gamesmanship in a matter of moments once the colorful logo greets your eye and your fertile farmland loads waiting for your aesthetic touch and business brilliance."

"The idea of the Farm Town is to build neighbors and to become land wealthy and object rich.  You achieve those goals by harvesting your neighbor's farms to earn coins and you can send gifts like trees and animals to help your neighbor create a working farm."

"In the end, you have to find a delicate balance between having lots of animals and buildings or dedicating your farm to planting as many crops as possible to earn the churn.  I'm currently of the mind that I want a farm that loads fasts for my neighbors to harvest and one that also provides me just a little aesthetic happiness in my little white farm house corner of the world."

"If you're on Facebook and you'd like to play Farm Town, sign me up as your friend, and we'll get to tending together!"


  1. and i am trying my hand on blogspot again...

    love the first line. so much honesty.. miss u friend.

  2. @ted: you know me. I'm frank. Too frank sometimes. ;)

  3. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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