Gameworld: A virtual farm turns new ground for game developers

Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:48am EDT
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By John Gaudiosi

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A virtual farm attracting up to 83 million aspiring farmers monthly has video game developers scrambling to find ways to plough the booming popularity of games on social networks.

Sites like Facebook, which has an estimated 400 million users, and MySpace, with about 100 million users, are driving a social gaming craze that was in the spotlight at this month's 2010 Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Heiko Hubertz, CEO of browser-based games portal which is home to over 100 million gamers, said online game experiences were very solitary in the past.

"Now through social network gaming and browser-based games portals, gamers of all types can share their experiences and compete against each other in original experiences like 'Poisonville,' as well as licensed content like the upcoming 'Battlestar Galactica Online,'" said Hubertz.

Once-small companies like Zynga, Bigpoint, Playdom, and Playfish, which Electronic Arts bought for $400 million last year, are finding exponential growth by creating free-to-play casual games that encourage players to get their friends involved.

This viral approach to gaming is introducing a whole new audience to videogames.

"The 800 pound gorilla in social games is Zynga's 'FarmVille,' which has over 82 million people worldwide playing at least once a month and over 32 million people playing daily," said Justin Davis, founder and editor of

"FarmVille," which has been available as an application on Facebook since June last year, involves managing a virtual farm by planting, growing and harvesting crops and raising livestock.   Continued...