How Farmville Makes More Money than Facebook or Real Farmers

Facebook credits card at Target

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, two pictures should be worth two thousand words right? Well the blog post I did Friday afternoon still had me thinking about how much more money Zynga’s Farmville is making than Facebook or real farmers when my niece and I stopped at Target for a few things. We saw something that I simply had to take a photo of – here it is.

Wait, that needs closer inspection.  

Facebook credits for Farmville, etc

Really? People buy $50 worth of credits to use those on applications like Farmville? Seriously? I think we have a real problem. And while I’m certain I waste far more money than I realize, I can’t imagine sinking money into a virtual farm week after week. I mean can’t you buy SimFarm or something and pay upfront then just enjoy it?

That said, I do have friends who are routinely putting money into farms and they don’t put everything up front. Farmers have no clue whether they will make it back and I have to wonder whether you can sell a FarmVille Farm to someone). And having not played Farmville in a very long time, I am probably unaware of all the great things you can buy with credits. And now I’m wondering if the same things farmers take out credit for can be purchased on Farmville. Some of the things I wonder about are:

  • Drip irrigation – This is some of the neatest irrigation technology I’ve seen. It enables farmers to place water in the root zone which makes it available to the plants root system (that’s where it is actually used, not by the leaves). That provides a more direct connection which significantly reduces evaporation so farmers are getting more crop response from the water they use.
  • Planting equipment – I saw a presentation the other day about some of the precision practices farmers are doing. The goal is to ultimately even look at varied rates of planting based on variable soil types. The reality that you spend a lot of money on a tractor and still have to buy the planter to go behind it may be lost on some. They always looked like a packaged set to me and you buy the tractor with implements in the toy section which is where I’ve always bought mine. That doesn’t happen at the tractor dealership. Everything it priced separately and farmers need to consider each component to be sure they are getting what they need. Our food, feed, fiber and fuel depend on it.
  • Harvesting equipment – I may need to start with some of the kinds of equipment used…. hmmm I know I’ll miss some cause I’m still learning!
    1. There is a swather and baler for hay. Seems you need a flatbed to haul bales of hay.
    2. For soybeans and rice, a combine will get you done in the field. For corn, you need a combine with a different thing on front – its called a header. All of those require trucks to transport, people may use grain wagons behind tractors in the field too.
    3. For cotton, most folks use a picker but the farmers in Texas or other areas of the High Plains may use a stripper. (Insert your juvenile jokes here cause I’ve either heard them or made them myself.) The picked cotton is usually transferred to a boll buggy being pulled by a tractor which drives it over to a module builder which compacts the cotton down for storage and transport to the gin. And of course you need a module truck to come with its creeping floor to pick the modules up to go to the gin. (Yes, some major manufacturers have incredible pickers with on-board moduling capabilities. Those are not cheap and as I type that I feel I need to explain that the complexity of a cotton picker already makes it farm pricier than a combine.)
  • Seed technologies – I could get really complex here but this is my personal blog so I’ll keep it brief. You can farm with heirloom seeds saved from season to season or you can choose seeds in some crops that have had greater research investments made into them to get higher performance. That research is done at a price and its value can be seen through genetic improvements, biotechnology enhancements that help control pest or reduce risk in season. The value is also seen in the price tag of the seed.

With just a few things on the credit list for farmers I’m exhausted! I need some light entertainment already but have to admit Farmville enhancements won’t be the route I go. No I think I’d prefer to watch some TV or something. I really hope the Panthers have a good game today, I could use happy thoughts.

Wait, I have something. Maybe I can start a RealFarm credits system where you can help a farmer buy something. Granted CSAs do some of that but it really is based on the food that comes back directly to you. In fact, my brother spent his weekend getting pigs and ducks to the butcher for his farm that will be enjoyed by several families. Love CSAs but the tangible nature of the return makes it different from Farmville. I think for us to get shelfspace at Target, we are going to need to think big.

I’m picturing someone at the register now shelling out their $50 for “RealFarm credit.” They go home and allot it to a farmer project like buying a planter. They can then see where the project is in funding — maybe the $50 bought a few bolts but at tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a planter, we’re going to need primo placement and a lot of uptake!

If not something like that, maybe we can all just remember to have friendly conversations now and then, letting friends spend money wherever they like but also talking real farms now and then when we are talking fun & games.

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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9 Responses to How Farmville Makes More Money than Facebook or Real Farmers

  1. plumpdumpling @ Unapologetically Mundane September 13, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Interesting thoughts. I’ve never played Farmville but have a co-worker who stresses about getting home to harvest the crops he plants before work every morning. It’s funny how millions of Facebook users evidently find small farms fascinating but have no idea that they’re dying out.

    I love the idea of getting with a web developer, building a better farming game, creating a non-profit, and finding a way to donate profits to real farmers. Really smart stuff.

    • Janice September 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

      So Farmvilling is stressful… maybe it does get some exposure to the farm mindset. LOL.

  2. Sarah September 13, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    JP- I just saw a similar Facebook display at my local Target yesterday! It blew my mind! I like your ideas… there definitely should be a connection between Farmville and real farming to help “virtual farmers” understand where their real food comes from!

  3. SlowMoneyFarm September 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Real credit = slow money – same principle! 😀
    I’ve not bought the credits either. There ARE other virtual games – ShowCattle.com is just one.

  4. Ryan Goodman September 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    The RealFarm concept might be something to think about. It could be a project to help farmers and ranchers in poverty or drought stricken areas. I really like the idea that consumers could donate to the people who produce their food and we could report back to them where their money went and how it fits into the production chain. Great educational idea and great possibility to help struggling farmers and ranchers. Maybe the groups who complain about government subsidies would be interested in the idea?

    • Jenna March 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

      The Heifer Foundation does this exact thing. Check out their website at http://www.heiferfoundation.org/

      • JPlovesCOTTON March 4, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

        Thanks for the reminder. I have bought a number of Heifer project pieces over the years and received several gifts that were made in my honor. Its a great foundation to work through and truly helps you make a difference.

  5. Penny September 23, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    I’m in total agreement with the previous comments but especially with @Ryan Goodman’s. It may have started out half-jokingly but I do believe it has merit. =)

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    […] Farmville or FarmTown but the proliferation of farm games amazes me. (see this post and this one on the money spent on […]

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