You may have thought it was already dead, but today the developer of FarmVille, arguably the first Facebook game to become a true sensation, announced that the game is finally meeting its end.
“Following an incredible 11 years since its initial launch back in 2009, we are officially announcing the closure of the original FarmVille game on Facebook,” Zynga said this morning. Players will be able to keep making in-app purchases through November 17; after that point, payments and refunds will be suspended but users will still be able to play through December 31, at which point FarmVille shuts the barn doors for good.
The timing isn’t exactly Zynga’s choosing: a decade ago, games of that ilk were usually built using Adobe Flash. Flash has for several years notoriously been a complete security disaster, and Adobe said back in 2017 it would finally kill off Flash at the end of 2020. That time is now upon us.
Even from its launch, FarmVille was a joke among more dedicated video game players, garnering derision for its gameplay, its gated, microtransaction-heavy mechanics, and for being on Facebook. But mockable or no, it changed the gaming world. Within six months, FarmVille reportedly reached 73 million monthly users, making it far and away the most popular game on Facebook. It made both Facebook and Zynga a ton of money in the process and laid out a template that future games could follow. Ars’ own Kyle Orland even wrote a book about it way back in 2011.
By 2013, however, Zynga’s dominance had waned. The company still makes dozens of games, including some licensed products, for mobile, Facebook, and the Web, but FarmVille, Words with Friends, and other popular Facebook gaming titles proved to operate mostly as fads. Players often moved on when the newness wore off, and the landscape for low-barrier social and mobile gaming became (and remains) highly competitive.
So farewell to FarmVille. The era it defined is long since over, but the influence it had on gaming remains.