Monday, May 10, 2010

Farmville Cash

I went through a weeklong phase of playing Farmville a few months ago. Then when I got my iPad, I tried Godfinger. All these farming games have two things in common: An attention-based and a money-based currency. In Farmville, these are called coins & cash.

You get coins for farming, but if you want to buy that fancy tractor, you have to pay in Farmville cash ("FVs"), which in turn is about $0.05 per FV. This Hot Rod tractor costs 55 Farmville cash, which in turn is about US$ 10.00:

I realize I'm not the target audience to purchase FarmVille cash (or Hot Rod Tractors). I guesstimate that's only about 2% of the userbase. But in comparison, I'm happy to shell out US$5.00 for high quality iPhone games. But why?

First, I'm offended by the fact that Zynga and its competitors have trivialized making money on PNGs. It used to be that your dollars would get you a whole new game experience. You would spend $50 but get a whole new episode of Monkey Island, a masterpiece of vision and sound. Today you spend $2 and all you get is essentially a PNG file. The creative value per dollar spent is at new lows.

Second, I'm annoyed that these currencies are essentially like airline miles: Zynga is the central bank. If they decide there needs to be inflation, there is inflation. This cash doesn't really store value.

I'm hoping that as more and more gamers realize this, there will be a race to the top. Games are going to deliver more creative value. The people who play them are going to stop playing the games that take them for a ride.


Paul Carduner said...

You need to add a like button to this post. I like it. That is all.

Gabor said...

I added a Like button, just for you!