When sewing seeds in FarmVille, one of the first options on the seed inventory is something called 'Sweet Seeds.' Not only are these seeds for growing sweet potatoes on your virtual farm, but also a way to donate to two Haitian-based charities.
Virtual farmers 'donate' by buying these seeds using 25 FarmVille dollars, which is roughly the equivalent of $5. Zynga takes 50% of the proceeds and the other half goes to the charities. Since the beginning of October, Zynga reports FarmVille fans have raised a total of $427K for the cause.
"The sheer scope and reach of social gaming to affect people`s lives in a positive way wasn't even a reality a few years ago," Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga says. "Today, with 'social goods,' we are enabling players to unlock their power to change the world and impact the lives of children."
The sweet potatoes last for one week in the game (and promise to be wither-free). Donors also receive a one-of-a-kind gift for their farm.
We have to point out that this charity drive is also proving profitable for Zynga, which is expected to bring in up to $200 million this year. Pincus says, ''Sweet Seeds for Haiti' is an early step for Zynga with more to come" -- so we'll expect to see more do-gooder causes popping up in other Zynga games. We're curious of rivals Playdom and Playfish will also jump on the 'cause' bandwagon in the near future. Call us idealistic, but we sorta like the idea of making the world a better place, one social game at a time.