30 Million Farmville Users Get Lives, Stop Playing

After a 15-month reign of inexplicable Facebook domination, Farmville has ceded its crown to Phrases, a quote, image and quiz-posting app.

MSNBC’s Technolog blog reports Farmville has sunk to a still-ridiculous 54 million monthly users, down from a high of 84 million earlier in the year. The app has been hemorrhaging users since bickering with Facebook over the in-game currency system.

Citing Gamasutra, Technolog warns that Farmville developer Zynga will not go down without a fight, and will soon launch a new app dubbed Cityville.

If you’re a former Farmvillian, when and why did you stop playing?

FarmVille no longer king of the Facebook hill [MSNBC’s Technolog]

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  1. JoeDawson says:

    Data mining?

  2. Bremma says:

    I stopped playing ages ago. They had some special limited edition crop that would be ready to harvest in 2 hours, and had a good profit margin. When I realized how dumb checking on a game every 2 hours was, I dropped it.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Same basic story. I stopped playing about a year ago, but I only just removed the app, because I had family playing that needed the bonuses from my farm. I stopped playing because they started crippling play, like they do with all of their games. There’s a point where you just can’t really play without giving them actual money, and I’m allergic to spending money on FB.

      They’ve similarly crippled FrontierVille like this, which was a much better game, but if you don’t have a lot of friends who also play (and my friends generally have better shit to do), you cannot advance after a certain level without grinding, and who the hell grinds on an FB game?

    • mikeP says:

      My wife mentioned that I was doing complex scripting so I could better ‘play’ a 10 year old kid’s game.
      Once the scripting was complete, the challenge was all gone.

      I only lasted about 5 days. After the 2nd day, I started looking for a way to avoid the carpal-tunnel inducing suffering of repeated clicking.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Selling goods that don’t exist is worthy of P.T. Barnum, maybe Facebook is pissed off that they didn’t think of it first.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      It’s an entertainment expense. And I’ve never played Farmville, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be a better value than many other entertainment options.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        A better value than many other entertainment options would be seeing many different movies, reading a history book, going to musuems, going to see a Broadway play, having a diverse entertainment field to choose from and not playing the same old game over and over again, paying for stuff that doesn’t exist and signing on every two hours to see if your crops grew?

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        You should ask someone who plays to show you the price list for game money and compare it to trade-in functionality. Not even WoW could get away with that kind of crap.

    • trentblase says:

      Paying for stuff that doesn’t exist is still better than paying for crappy stuff that does exist, sits in your garage for a few years, and then ends up in a landfill. And what else were these people going to spend their money on? Cancer research?

  4. 339point4 says:

    I played because half the people in my friends list continually spammed me with Farmville updates, so I checked it out. I quit because it’s a time sink and I don’t have time to sink. Plus, I hate pimping out my friends in order to get virtual (and stupid) rewards.

    My mother-in-law plays almost obsessively, and she pays to do so. I don’t begrudge her this work/reward virtual experience, but Farmville and its ilk seem sort of sleazy and I wish I could introduce her to games that offer the same stimuli (Sim City comes to mind, as well as mmorpgs like WoW).

  5. Taylor says:

    I stopped when I realized half the products available could only be purchased with real funds. Had they given you the option to use virtual coins I’d probably still be playing.

    • ablestmage says:

      You can still play and do better than most of your friends without paying a single cent. I started in June of 2009, and tapered off at level 74 in August/Sept 2010 — mostly because of spending my time on FrontierVille — but not once did I ever spend any real money. Using the “because you have to pay” excuse is complete nonsense. You don’t, at all, ever.

  6. Fjord says:

    This is probably the worst time investment ever. I don’t play games anyway. Neither watch TV.

  7. ShariC says:

    Is the playing of all games an indication that one lacks a life, or just Farmville?

    I don’t play Farmville (I quit ages ago and never really got into it because of the timing and having to check back on the game at regular intervals), but I think that the attitude that computer game playing of any kind means one has nothing better to do is an attempt to elevate ones priorities above those of others. In essence, it’s a need to look down on others so one can feel better about ones own pathetic life.

    People have been playing games and finding ways to waste time pleasantly (like, ahem, reading web sites) for eons. I will grant that many FaceBook games are clickfests, but I can’t say they are any more of a waste of time than playing most card or board games, and are certainly little different than watching television. People sometimes want to do something which is lightly amusing which doesn’t engage their higher brain functions, particularly after work. That doesn’t mean they lack a life, but rather that they have too much of one and need to tune out of it for awhile.

    • DanRydell says:

      Just Farmville. Farmville isn’t really a game, it’s essentially work.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        It is a game specifically designed to be addictive and obsession-inducing. There’s a whole series of studies on the psychology of games, and how they exploit our action/reward pleasure response.

        I’ve played several games that amount to work; Animal Crossing, Minecraft, even most MMO’s are filled with tedious, repetative gameplay. But they are predictable; if you put in X amount of effort, you get Y amount of benefit. Games are considered “unsatisfying” when you put in a lot of effort and get something that doesn’t seem worth that effort. A game where an hour spent on a “quest” results in a piddly-spit prize will lose players fast.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Agreed. I don’t play Farmville, but I’ve spent hours playing Angry Birds on my phone. The difference is, are you so obsessed that everything else becomes a lower priority? If so, it’s not the medium that’s the problem, it’s the user.

    • Rachacha says:

      The problem with a game like Farmville is:
      1) The updates in Facebook and the “gifts” you receive from your friends compel you to continue to participate for fear of disappointing your friends.
      2) While one could play the game without spending real money, to advance quickly, one needed to spend real money to buy virtual items.
      3) The nature of the game forced you to play periodically or you would lose everything that you had built.

      Compare that with a traditional “casual” game (like Plants vs Zombies or Angry Birds) where you can start and stop at your convenience, play every day, or only once a year and you will pick up where you left off. There is no NEED to play this game every few hours or to check in several times during the day (other than the fact the games are fun and you want to solve the puzzle and move to the next level)

  8. iggy21 says:

    I stopped when my bank account went dry…

    ok, I lied, I stopped myself from even starting to play.

  9. Andyb2260 says:

    It got boring, plow, plant, harvest repeat.

  10. seachristie says:

    You have to have too many friends to have enough fuel to plow. That’s why everyone I know quit. Doesn’t matter how many times I invite people to be my neighbor, they aren’t going to sign up.

  11. Bativac says:

    I have never once played this game. My wife pulled it up on the computer once and we goofed around with it for a couple minutes and that was it. Is there more too it than planting and harvesting crops?

  12. Azuaron says:

    I find Minecraft a far better time sink. Only pay once and get all future updates; complete control of the world’s build; and, come on, why wouldn’t you want to play a game that people have used to simulate a working computer and build a 1:1 replica of the USS Enterprise?

    • MerlynNY says:

      Quoted for truth and FTW!

    • Oddfool says:

      I don’t Facebook (or other online gaming), and I won’t begrudge you the replica of the Enterprise at any time.

      But people are using a computer to play a game that simulates a working computer?? Isn’t that like bleaching out a $100.00 bill only to print a fake $100.00 bill?

  13. Pooterfish says:

    Because of federal farm policy that rewards agri-business giants like ADM and squeezes out the little guy.

  14. macoan says:

    I stopped playing Farmville (and Frontierville & Mafia Wars) around the beginning of 2010.

    Why – Because it was taking way too much of my time. At first it was nice – fun something to do to take up time…. but Zynga got greedy and made the game more of a “must be on it all the time” instead of the fun “be on it as much as you want”.

    I’m a big fan of the Sim City type of games, and do plan on trying out the Cityville once it comes out – but as soon as they start trying to tie the game in with Farmville/Mafia Wars/Frontierville — I will quit that one also instead of being bullied into having to play other games that I no longer want.

  15. tjustman says:

    Why quit playing? Easy, it got boring.

  16. Sunflower1970 says:

    Never got in to Farmville…but most of my co-workers are obsessed over it. I honestly don’t get it.

    Now, Angry Birds…that’s another story…at least I don’t have to buy virtual gifts or whatever…Just kill green pigs… (lol)

  17. Nuc says:

    I quit because I couldn’t grow pot and sell it through Mafia Wars.

  18. KTK1990 says:

    I quit after getting mad at Zynga for them installing spyware on computers, then when they got caught, they just changed the name and pretended like nothing happened. Deleted topics, and got banned on posting instructions to block their spyware.

    Only came back for those stupid gamecenter achievements.

  19. marillion says:

    I love me some Farmville, but work and family priorities have left me little time or energy to even bother turning my computer on in the evening.

  20. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I was playing Cupcake corner for a bit, just for the hell of it. Wasn’t really a point and it got annoying. *shrug*

  21. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    That’s 30 million babies who won’t be killed for interrupting their mother’s harvest time. WIN!

    http://con.st/10012520

  22. keepher says:

    Months ago, it was the dumbest, time wasting game. Then a few months after not playing I quit Facebook completely.

  23. BocaMan says:

    I was so into it, at least an hour a day; then, one day last year in December, I got busy, stopped and NEVER went back. Although when my mom visits, she logs on to fertilize crops and give herself gifts.

  24. ellemdee says:

    Personally, the increasingly frequent technical issues are getting to me. I like(d) playing, but the issues have become so bad that I haven’t been able to play for most of the last month. It’s frustrating and I’m losing interest. Meanwhile, they roll out buggy new features frequently without resolving existing technical problems.

    As far as spamming friends with requests, I set up my posts so that they only go to people who also play the game, but most people probably aren’t going to take that extra step (if they even know how). Luckily, you can still block apps you don’t use/like and you’ll never have to see Aunt Sally’s 10th post of the day asking for hay/shovels/whatever.

  25. hoppychris says:

    When you realize that most of the pay-for items in the game allow you to play the game less, it’s pretty easy to admit that it isn’t fun. Oooh, special tractor that allows me to do less tedious clicking! Oooh, you can get farm help to avoid the tedious clicking of harvesting!

  26. JHerrick79 says:

    I stopped play after I made my first million and had the biggest size farm and got bored.
    Also, I found it obnoxious that it took so many clicks to play. It sucked up way too much of my life, and I’m glad to be free of Farmville.

  27. Trick says:

    We have a Farmville call center near our south campus… one day all of a sudden the parking lot was full of cars and has remained that way ever since. Farmville must employ 200+ people in this particular call center.

    I hate real gardening/farming so I never did the Farmville crap. World Domination was my game until the developers abandoned it.

  28. cybrczch says:

    I stopped playing early in 2010, when I realized I would rather grow real plants than online ones.

  29. Portlandia says:

    I had a life the whole time and never played Farmville or Cafe World or any of these stupid games that involve mindless clicking or irritating your friends with requests to water my crops or kidnap someone.

    My favorite group I liked on Facebook was “If you send me one more Farmville request I will burn your crops and piss in your well!”

  30. nodaybuttoday says:

    I was pretty obsessed, but it was taking over my time way too much and I got annoyed that I had to check on it every few hours.

  31. sprybuzzard says:

    I enjoy it. I see nothing wrong with taking a break from life and playing a game. Besides, how else can I grow crops over winter? For the record, I have only spent time and effort on this game. I get a little jealous of others who build up their farms so quick, but everything I have on my farm I earned through the game. Eh, to each his own.

  32. M3wThr33 says:

    I stopped playing about 6 months ago. I was driving home and thought to myself “I am going to look back in 20 years and wish I didn’t spend all that time playing Farmville.”

    The basic gameplay in it is just lacking. There’s no additional gameplay from working hard, just more junk to bother your friends with. There’s no strategy, skill, or anything but decorating a flat plane. And you need to dedicate a crapload of time to master the crops, the big pull.

    In contrast, I can play Mafia Wars once a day for 15 minutes and it has infinitely more strategy involved.

  33. Blueskylaw says:

    A better value than many other entertainment options would be seeing many different movies, reading a history book, going to musuems, going to see a Broadway play, having a diverse entertainment field to choose from and not playing the same old game over and over again, paying for stuff that doesn’t exist and signing on every two hours to see if your crops grew?

  34. EverCynicalTHX says:

    I stopped playing once it became clear that their intentions were building new customers at my Facebook friends expense….it became spam city basically.

  35. xjeyne says:

    This is because its a shitty video game.

  36. Emidawg says:

    I stopped playing because almost none of the new content they put out was free anymore. Everything cost real money, not worth it anymore.

  37. arualflower says:

    WOW > Farmville

  38. Yamantaka says:

    Actually, Phrases is only beating Farmville by less than 500,000 monthly average users, so it’s not as if Phrases has a secure handle on its position… yet.

    The numbers quoted reflect the monthly average users, which is different form the daily average users. Daily average users are those who visit and interact with the application on a daily basis, versus those who are subscribed on a monthly basis. If you look at the daily average users, Farmville is securely in the top spot, with 16.6 million users (Windows Live Messenger is #2 at 9.77 million users.)

    The most recent daily average user percentage (the percentage of monthly average users who visited that day) for Farmville is 31%, holding within 3% of that over the past month. That’s _very_ steady for these games. Meanwhile, the daily average user percentage for Phrases has dropped from a peak of 17% down to 10% in that same time period. (See http://www.appdata.com for more info.) That would seem to indicate that Phrases will probably not hold onto its top spot for much longer.

    Phrases isn’t a “game,” per se, so it doesn’t have the same psychological hook or monetized structure built into it. Farmville _has_ dropped a significant chunk of users from its peak, but it lost many of those users several months ago. While the structure of Facebook game notifications was a part of that, the introduction of several new games (many of them created or published by Zynga), the stagnation of the game’s mechanic for a period of time (level progress and achievements were capped at a fairly low level compared to other FB games), and simple player fatigue (15 months is a long time for _any_ game to hold the top slot) were major factors in the decline.

    I’m just sayin’. :)

    NOTE: I do not work for Zynga, but I am a game developer.

  39. jerrycomo says:

    I’m glad to havenever touched any FB games or stupid apps.

    Although I’m a big Viva Pinata fan. Gotta get Trouble in Paradise as soon as I get the 50 achievements in VP1!

  40. Pureboy says:

    1) I could not continue playing unless I provided my email address. Which led me to 2

    2) I realized that the game was almost all chore and no fun, especially if you do not spend money on their in-game currency. (this is not true of other Zynga games such as Mafia Wars) So I deleted my account and stopped playing.

  41. Tevokkia says:

    Never played Farmville, but did play Superpoke Pets on FB. Quit when obsessing over the new items got boring and most of the good stuff required you to spend money (maybe a year ago?). I think I played it for about six months … the effort involved just got more and more excessive as they added more and more features.

  42. manicsoprano says:

    It was nice when they added more little extras that went a bit beyond plow, plant, harvest, but it got ridiculous. Every time I logged on, there was some new thingy to build. Between that and the fact that most of the stuff (the good stuff anyway) needed real funds to purchase it.

    Though, I confess, I do like Frontierville (Zynga’s pioneer themed answer to Farmville).

  43. Smultronstallet says:

    I’ve never seen the appeal of Farmville. From the little I know, it seems rather tedious and pointless. That’s why I enjoy online Boggle. It’s completely free, a game last just 3 minutes, and I’ve learned so many new words (suq, dak, dzo, qoph, etc)!

  44. sublight says:

    I was addicted to MafiaWars, another Zynga game, for almost a year. At one point, I finally had one of those “what am I doing here?” moments and walked away, never to return.

    Looking back, I can take solace in the fact that I never spent real money, and I only played with a second fake-name account that just friended other MafiaWars players, so I didn’t spam all my real friends with crap.

  45. BaronYiffington says:

    I quit after two weeks or so just out of sheer boredom. Log on, click on squares 100 times. Then again, to till the land. Then again to plant seeds. Then again to harvest.

    Then maybe I’ll click on cows three or four times.

    Yawn.

  46. pythonspam says:

    “Sorry, currently Phrases can’t be accessed from within the US.

    We’ve had to make this tough decision in spite of the support of our fans in the US. Currently we have no timeline for lifting this restriction. We’re really sorry!”

  47. JANSCHOLL says:

    I stopped playing in May 2010. I was farming and chatting with my friend Linda and she said good night see you tomorrow. Only there was no tomorrow. She died shortly after logging out of the game. I saved as a photo our last farming session but no way would I ever go back to that game. RIP sweet lady. I hope your crops are always bug free and organic.

  48. jedifarfy says:

    I play Farmville. Overall, I do enjoy it. However, so many people are leaving because of the epic, and continually growing, number of issues with the game. They release new items and events twice a week, and every one of them for the last few months have come with new bugs, errors, or ways to ruin game play. Their customer service is terrible and incompetent. I had an issue, and after 3 weeks I threatened them with PayPal to get a refund. Suddenly they did what I said. Another neighbor had a problem with a sign, and instead of it getting fixed, they gave her a duplicate of another, not broken, sign.

    I’m going to reduce gameplay to once a week once I finish mastering all the crops. I have about 5 left. I’ll come back to do special crops, and check on my farm. But yeah, can’t wait to escape. SO addictive.

  49. diannerose says:

    My DH mentioned that I have a real garden to tend to… and then my make believe dog, that I named after our real dog ran away. I was sad.

  50. kewpie says:

    I tried one of the farming games on FB (can’t remember if it was farmville or something else), but got bored and quit after just a few days. I played Mafia Wars when you only had to check it once a day, but when they changed it I quit. I don’t play any games on FB anymore; I have better things to do with my time.

  51. Nick says:

    My experience with Farmville has to do with blocking those who play from posting to my wall. Cityville? Oxymoronic.