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FarmVille foreclosed on Facebook

The game, and Facebook craze, that launched a $7 billion IPO

Two cartoon figures hold hands while gazing out at fields of plenty in Farmville.
FarmVille sunsets on Dec. 31, 2020, says Zynga.
Image: Zynga
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

All good things, and Farmville, must come to an end.

Zynga’s first big hit is sunsetting on its original platform, Facebook. And remember when that was a thing? The free-to-play lifestyle sim’s sequel, Farmville 2, is still running on mobile however, although its core demographic is, shall we say, well outside of the readership here.

Zynga’s support blog this morning said that FarmVille will close for good by Dec. 31, when Adobe stops distributing and supporting the Flash Player that the game uses for its web browser versions. Facebook will consequently stop supporting Flash games, and so bye-bye FarmVille.

“We’re aware that many of you have been with us since the very beginning, helping to build an incredible global community of players over the years who’ve enjoyed this game just as much as we have,” the message said. “For that we say thank you.”

Social gaming, as a genre and platform, took off in 2009, around the time FarmVille launched. It surged to nearly 73 million monthly active users that year, according to AdWeek. At the time, that was 20 percent of Facebook’s own installation base.

The social games craze peaked with Zynga’s $7 billion initial public offering in December 2011. By that point, many big games publishers had Facebook adaptations of their most recognizable franchises, especially Electronic Arts, whose former president of EA Games (Frank Gibeau) has been Zynga’s chief executive since 2016.

Zynga’s stock plunged after its first three months on the NASDAQ, but its latest share price is actually more than half of the company’s all-time high.

Polygon reached out to Zynga for final numbers on its Facebook player base, but a company spokesperson said Zynga does “not break out audience size by game.” But in 2013, the company released an infographic boasting a 40 million monthly active player count for FarmVille 2.

Farmville was followed by a 2012 sequel FarmVille 2, which likewise is still available on mobile devices. Both became a mainstream craze and were frequently linked to sensational news stories about gaming-addicted parents who otherwise weren’t typical video gamers. Zynga applied the -Ville suffix to several other builders and lifestyle sims that have since closed, including CityVille, CastleVille, ChefVille, FishVille and, simply, The Ville.

Zynga said that in-app purchases on the Facebook game will be available until Nov. 17, when the payment system will be shut down. That means refunds will not be processed after that date, either. The game will remain playable until Dec. 31, so anyone with credits left in the game should spend them out before then.

“We are also working on fun in-game activities to be announced soon that are designed to make your remaining time with FarmVille even more enjoyable,” Zynga said.

FarmVille 2: Country Escape and FarmVille 2: Tropic Escape are still available for iOS and Android devices, and Zynga says they’ll be followed soon by FarmVille 3 on the same platforms.

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