FarmVille for iPhone is faster than ever, but misses the point
Until recently, iOS has been a thorn in Zynga's side since it launched FarmVille on Apple's iPhone in June 2010. It was a brilliant concept at launch, but the game was nearly unplayable until the company finally released Version 2.0 this past March. Admittedly, it's still littered with loading bugs and out-of-sync errors are almost expected upon planting too many crops at once. But for every improvement and every glitch, Zynga is missing a golden opportunity with FarmVille for iOS.
For all intents and purposes, FarmVille for iPhone is a way to play the game when you're not in front of the computer screen. Unfortunately, what functionality the game does serve stops there. (Considering the amount of limitations dropped on you when playing on iPhone.) But even if Zynga were to introduce the ability to visit friends who don't play FarmVille on iOS, it still wouldn't be enough. Simply put, FarmVille for iOS, for being a social game, takes no advantages of being on a mobile device.
This is where Zynga would do well to take a cue from Nintendo and its 3DS, which through SpotPass and StreetPass can play games with nearby handhelds. The iPhone--and most smartphones, for that matter--have two unique advantages over standard PCs: being extremely mobile and aware of their surroundings. The latter means that through technologies like geo-location or even Bluetooth, devices like the iPhone can recognize and report their exact location in reference to their surroundings, most notably other phones. Just look at iPhone apps like Bump, which uses Bluetooth to find other devices nearby and shares contact information. Is there any reason why FarmVille for iPhone couldn't use the same technology?
Of course it would be a difficult feat, but not really. A scenario: You're waiting in line at mall to buy that hot new shirt you just picked up on clearance. Like any self-respecting FarmVille fan, you pop out the iPhone and start playing only to be greeted with a pop-up that reads "There are three farmers near you right now. Would you like to become their friend?" You click "Accept" and then check off the names of those nearby to add them as Facebook friends. Seconds later, you're visiting their farm and fertilizing their crops before it's even your turn in line.
Better yet, you're on the train and, while playing FarmVille, you receive a pop-up message that reads, "Calling all nearby farmers! My Chickens need to be fed! Can you help me?" Mind you, this player in need isn't even your friend, but a nearby farmer used the Bluetooth or even 3G connection in their phone to broadcast a message to nearby FarmVille players. You can help them just that once and be done with it or it could spark a conversation, and hopefully a new friendship (beyond Facebook, of course). This was the original goal of PC-based social games, no?
Developers and players alike have been crying out for a more organically social experience through Facebook games. Well, here it is folks. Connecting with those immediately around you is about as organic as social gets, but this is impossible in not only FarmVille for iOS, but all Zynga games for mobile devices. So, what are we waiting for? Organic social connections through Facebook gaming simply isn't happening on a wide scale through standard PCs and browsers. What's worse is that it likely never will given the immense profits sucked from the current model. Mobile is where social games will truly become social, and Zynga better hop on it fast before the horde of developers (in a distant second place) do.
[Image Credits: UTNE and AppAdvice]
Are you satisfied with FarmVille for iOS as is? Would you want to play it more if features like these were introduced to the game? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.