It's not lost on us that a good chunk of Kotaku's readership and commentariat is perplexed by our decision to play, study, and write about Zynga's latest free Facebook game FarmVille 2.
And yet for the past month, that's just what we've been doing. It's been both enjoyable and fascinating. No, FarmVille 2 isn't for everyone. In fact, I've gotten sick of it and stopped playing. That said, there is a reason these games are so hugely popular, and it's one worth understanding. Furthermore, if you've got a group of friends who will play with you (or you don't mind playing the game through Zynga's website), there's also a good deal of fun to be had with the game.
I thought I'd round up our coverage of FarmVille 2 here. It charts an interesting course from vague interest, to study, to obsession to retreat. Here we go:
To put things in context: A month before FarmVille 2 launched, Electronic Arts filed an aggressive, inflammatory lawsuit against Zynga, alleging that the FarmVille-makers ripped off EA's The Sims Social for their own The Ville. The lawsuit itself is a fascinating read, a thorough breakdown of most if not all of the accusations leveled against Zynga over the past few years.More »
It started a while back when Stephen wrote this in-depth feature in which he took a second look at Zynga's philosophies and design practices, speaking with a good number of employees in the process. More »
Not too long after that, I (Kirk) was invited to Zynga HQ to get an early look at FarmVille 2 and talk with some of the people behind it. "What does a re-imagination of virtual farming look like?"
Tim LeTourneau kept asking that question. I wasn't sold on his answers, but it was certainly an interesting conversation.More »
Then the game came out, and so we shared the new features. Flash 11, no energy-based gameplay (though time with the game revealed water to be a type of energy), right-clicking, etc.More »
Nobody likes a Facebook spammer. If you're going to give FarmVille 2 a go, the first thing you should be aware of is that Zynga is going to try to get you to spam your friends and your wall with as many posts about the game as possible. The second thing you should be aware of is how to keep from doing that.More »
A week into the game, I hadn't entirely parsed the systems, but I had parsed the fact that everything I said about the game sounded… dirty. "I went over to my neighbor's farm and watered her pumpkins." Indeed. More »
The second thing I noticed was that I was ready to set the theme music on fire. I still am.More »
In the midst of FarmVille 2's launch, Zynga hit back at EA over their Sims Social lawsuit with an equally aggressive response and counterclaim. It hasn't quite gotten to fisticuffs yet, but the two mega companies are certainly getting ready to throw down.More »
It was at this point that Stephen wrote this great piece that captures the attitude that we've taken to FarmVille 2 around Kotaku — genuine interest, an obsession that's part tongue-in-cheek, part genuine, and entirely enjoyable. Trading tips and secrets, competing with one anothers' farms, and generally having a good time talking about games. Yes, some of us at Kotaku were (and are) obsessed with FarmVille 2.More »
But of course, all good (or at least compulsive) things must come to an end. Last week, I finally hit a wall in FarmVille 2 where the game was taking too much time — with no end in sight (or indeed, possible), I decided it was time to call it a day and let my crops wither. I might be back for the next big update, but for now, my time as a virtual farmer is over.More »
And so we've reached a bit of a detente with FarmVille 2 here at Kotaku tower. There's still a lot more to be said about the game, and what it says about the state of social gaming and the entire Facebook gaming scene. And of course, Fahey will doubtless keep on bugging me to send him milk bottles and brushes, even though I never check on my farm.
Let's close with Stephen's review of the game for the New York Times, in which he writes:
Facebook games like FarmVille 2 retain the stench of a casino. But where the first game's systems were too shallow, the new one's are just deep enough to convey the feeling that smarts can move a player forward as effectively as the passage of time. That this game is constantly pestering for payment is all the more welcome. Every good system invites rebellion. Just try to have fun without paying a cent, the game seemingly whispers. Challenge answered.
This is a game that is as enjoyable to play as it is to defy.