The most popular web phenomenon of the year wasn’t actually Twitter, it was Farmville. The Facebook powered virtual farm game has attracted over 60 million users – even more than Twitter. The big question revolves around whether Farmville is a fad – like a more sophisticated virtual Pokémon but with pigs and aubergines – or whether it is the start of something truly huge. There are many people who think it is the latter. Farmville’s owners recently took $200 million in investment capital and there are plans to expand the service and offer similar games online.
In many ways it is the long lost cousin of Second Life. However, unlike Second Life, it is easy to play, doesn’t involve too much effort (unless a person wants it to) and is likely to be a lot less faddy. Most of all though it boasts a huge audience. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens to Farmville in 2010. Top of Zynga’s (who invented the game) wants list will be to monetise the game and CEO Mark Pincus freely admits it is difficult creating opportunities for brands that enhance Farmville rather than detract from it.
The huge opportunity though is for Farmville, or a game like it, to develop into a truly compelling mobile experience. Especially if it can incorporate other elements such as augmented reality.