Farmville, the virtual farm in Facebook has now taken on a new site, Farmville.com. The farm and all its virtual tractors, sheep and money are all here for your playing pleasure.
Existing farmers can log in to the new site using their Facebook ID to pick up where they left off. New farmers can break ground here, or on Facebook.
This announcement is not particularly massive but more an important step in Farmville and its owner Zynga growing their audience away from one social network. As speculation continues to grow about an IPO, the business will no doubt need to show growth potential as a stand-alone company, not just a game channel of a social network.
The announcement also comes as they should be looking to grow the business and the brand before older competitors jump on the social game bandwagon…
Usually it’s the young startups we need to watch for. But not in this case. Remember Sid Meier? If you ever played computer games in the past twenty years, there is a strong chance you played one of his. From F15 Strike Eagle on the Atari (I loved that game!) to Sid Meier’s Civilisation series, his games have been some of the highest selling of all time.
So when Sid Meier decides to bring his games to Facebook (OK, lend his name to games) Zynga will have rights to be concerned. Until now, Zynga has had a great run creating social games with fair graphics and great gameplay. A game maker with more global sales and recognition than Zynga is bound to be stiff competition and may well encourage ‘older’ gamers back in where Zynga could not. The current holding fan page for Civilisation has 76,000 fans without any game launch vs Zynga’s 120,000 fans across all of its games.
This is speculation of course, but Zynga are still a young company, regardless of how many virtual tractors they sell every day. If competitors of this size and pedigree jump on the bandwagon there may not be so much money to share. In the meantime, Farmville will continue to make real money from virtual hay whilst Bulgarian councillors get sacked for playing too much.