Though most of you probably stopped playing the original FarmVille ages ago, if you want to get one last hit of nostalgia, today is officially the last day you can play the game on Facebook.
Zynga announced the decision earlier in September, warning the apparently non-zero number of FarmVille fans who still play the original game. It’s a little baffling, considering the original FarmVille first debuted 11 years ago in 20090, and has since spawned FarmVille 2, FarmVille 2: Country Escape, and FarmVille 3. To be fair, FarmVille would’ve probably continued if it weren’t for the fact that the game runs on Flash and Adobe finally killed Flash this year.
Still, while the popularity of the original game has since waned, there was once a time where FarmVille defined the Facebook experience. You’d log on and friends you hadn’t spoken to in years had left you with a landslide of notifications and pokes, asking for help on their virtual farm. The wise among us ignored the notifications. The rest of us eventually got sucked into a mindless game of planting virtual tomatoes and carrots, which were then harvested and exchanged for…crappy in-game collectibles and buildings. Some of us may have even spent Real Money to speed up insufferable wait times because who wants to stare at a strawberry patch for four hours. Some of us — not this writer, nope, no sir — may have forgotten to set an alarm and logged on a smidge too late, only to find said crop of strawberries had withered and died.
If you’ve ever found yourself questioning your existence, wondering why you, an otherwise rational individual, would be tempted to spend real, hard-earned money on a trashy mobile game, you can thank FarmVille for that. Although FarmVille didn’t invent game mechanics like real-time loops or loot boxes, it did play a massive role in popularising them for the mainstream. Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, and all those other free-to-play games with infuriating in-app microtransactions all took a page from FarmVille’s playbook. That said, its success also changed the gaming landscape, inviting developers to create casual mobile and browser games that appealed to wider demographics.
At its peak, FarmVille had 32 million daily active users and a total of 85 million players, according to the New York Times. By 2013, it had amassed $US1 ($1) billion in total player purchases. Its death isn’t going to leave a massive hole in mobile gaming; there are, after all, countless knock-off games that are just like it (as well as several official FarmVille sequels and expansions). It is, however, an important part of modern gaming history, as is the dubious legacy it leaves behind.
Out of curiosity, I tried logging into my old FarmVille farm. I imagined everything would be withered and dead. I was greeted with several notices that FarmVille was about to die, and that to get one last nostalgic joyride, I’d have to install a Zynga Flash plugin. I did the thing. I was barraged with several notifications of competitions and in-game events that I’d missed. Everything loaded so slowly. Somehow my fruit trees hadn’t died despite over 10 years of neglect. For reasons I can’t explain, I planted 10 strawberry patches that I will absolutely not check on or harvest before this game dies. I was then hit with several more pop-ups. After closing my browser in frustration, I remembered why I quit this game in the first place.