I recently noticed that there is a sequel to Farmville.  After I got over the round of full body convulsions and dry heaving, I had to ask the question: “Why?”

Now, I know what is likely new with the sequel: New/improved UI, updated graphics/engine, optimizations, new junk, and probably new content (missions, quests, whatnot).  But really, it’s going to be mostly the same thing, a farming simulator that’s so slow it makes Harvest Moon look like a first-person shooter in comparison.

Honestly, I have no idea why they decided to go with a sequel rather than just patching Farmville up with all the improvements.  OK, I lied, I know exactly why they did it.

You see, Farmville has about 97 trillion* different items in it.  If they were to update all of those items to the new engine, it would take a significant effort that wouldn’t really produce any revenue.  The best way to get past that is to just start fresh.  You’ll have less overall content to start, but as you slowly update all those old items, you can charge for them again.  You’re basically getting a second payment for items that have already been purchased that now have to be repurchased, and objects that are free within the game will keep people playing longer as you update the old items.  That’s not to say there isn’t a service there, but generally speaking it takes less work to update an object to a new code-set than it does coming up with an entirely new object.

There will also be double-dipping going on.  Just because the sequel comes up, doesn’t mean people will stop playing the original.  In fact, some will likely play, and pay for, both.  And the company only has to continue to update the new one.

That’s pretty true to the Zynga business model in general.  They’re big about recycling old games and packaging on new UIs.  For instance, their line of <insert prefix here>ville games that are basically the same game with various small graphics and UI tweaks.  Or the slew of <another prefix> wars games that are all basically the same thing with different color pallets and a few little gimmicks here and there to make them feel more different than they actually are.

You probably noticed that I’m not a fan of Zynga.

But then, I’m not a fan of most of the companies that make Facebook games.  It all really comes from one thing: accepting money for a beta product.  If you have labeled your product as beta, you are admitting that the product is not complete enough for an actual retail release.  Yet almost all Facebook games have, at some point in their history, borne this tag while still accepting money in exchange for whatever special currency there is within the game.  It’s always felt like companies were using the beta tag to excuse themselves for having glitchy games with limited content and poor customer support rather than using it as a testing phase as intended.

But, if you want that experience, there are a lot of free flash games out there that are terrible and will provide all the above without the fee-based energy/currency system.  There are also a lot of awesome flash games out there that will give a better experience, but if you dig glitchy, poorly assembled and supported games, who am I to judge?

I seem to have wandered a bit.

So yes, there’s a Farmville 2, and it makes me feel dirty that it exists.  If playing it makes you happy, go for it, but I’m just going to continue on my blissful way and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile the growing number of independent video game companies that are cropping up pleases me, though it does mean there are going to be a lot more awesome games I’m never going to have time enough to play.  So it goes.  My views of independent game companies is a topic for another post.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

*Number may be made up.