FarmVille no more: The death of the Ville game

FarmVille Sad Cow
FarmVille Sad Cow

Admit it: If someone were to tell you a year ago that full 3D, real-time multiplayer racing games were possible on Facebook or Google+, you would laugh in their face. In 2011, it seemed that the most oohs and ahhs you'd get out of a social game were from a sick chain reaction in Bejeweled Blitz. And that was A-OK ... until now.

It seems that social game fans' tastes have changed--just look at AppData. In May's top 25 Facebook games in terms of daily players, a mere six games involve tending to a property of some sort. (And five of those are courtesy of Zynga.) The rest of them? Arcade-style puzzle games, casino games and even a role-playing game (RPG) along with a strategy game rule the roost.

It's tough to explain this shift in collective gaming taste with any empirical evidence because it simply doesn't exist. (Outside of perhaps a few polls and surveys.) But a critical look at farming and city-building games quickly exposes why these kinds of games won't last much longer on Facebook, and explains why the scene is so focused on pumping out more action-packed, stimulating social games.

Games in which players tend a farm or a cityscape are no doubt relaxing, at times to the point of sedating--a fine way to wind down from a crazy day on the job. But that charm seems to have lost its luster simply due to the fact that there's not much room for new experiences in such games. Developers can add new buildings, animals and properties to maintain ad infinitum, but the core hook of clicking crops away remains unchanged.

But take a game like Bubble Witch Saga, the top bubble shooter on Facebook, for a spin and you'll quickly understand why a game like that would skyrocket to the top. Sure, the core play loop of shooting bubbles never changes--not even a little bit--but end result is rarely the same. That's especially so for players that look to earn the highest scores among their friends. In that regard, games like Tetris Battle challenge players more than, say, CastleVille ever could.

KartRider Dash
KartRider Dash

This idea of challenging players and testing their skills, a staple in the console and PC games space, isn't going anywhere. In fact, social games will only take this design philosophy closer to heart in the future. Just look at a few of the games released on Facebook in the past week: Bubble Safari, Jetpack Joyride and KartRider Dash all succeed in rewarding players for their skill.

And this is just the beginning. On the horizon, we have isometric shooters like Ghost Recon Commander, action RPGs such as KingsRoad and a console game streaming service, Gaikai, is already available. With surprisingly invigorating puzzle games in no short supply and gorgeous action games around the bend, is there even room for another farming game? Let's just say it's become dangerously crowded.

Are you still digging simulator-style social games, or did you drop those a long time ago? What game is your favorite? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.