Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

VC Defends Farmville, Touts Virtual Tractor Sales

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the see-the-economy-is-fine dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 148

theodp writes "In a blog post, venture capitalist Fred Wilson gives his thoughts on ripe areas for tech investment in 2010 — mobile, gaming, new forms of commerce/currency, Cloud platforms/APIs, education and energy/environment. Asked to comment on scams and social gaming (he is an investor in Zynga), Wilson defended Zynga's Farmville: 'Zynga makes almost all of its revenue on virtual goods. I said in my etsy/san telmo post the other day that more tractors are sold every day in Farmville than are sold in the US every year. That's where the money is in social gaming. The "scammy ads" thing is total red herring that everyone got excited about but is almost entirely irrelevant.'"

cancel ×

148 comments

So? (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631744)

In my Civ 4 game I built more battleships than the US ever produced in its history. Know why? Because it's a fucking game!

I fail to see how they think that their number for tractor sales has anything to do with the fact that it is a borderline scam, and a crap game to boot.

Re:So? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631852)

Is Civ 4 a good game? If we're stuck with a game advert article, we might as well sway it over to a something a gamer will actually play.

Re:So? (3, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631872)

Very good game if you like turn-based strategy. Just one more turn...

Re:So? (1)

TJamieson (218336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631934)

Damn Mongolians won't vote for me with the UN! :-)

(Yes, it's a Civ4 joke)

Re:So? (4, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632010)

On a slightly related funny note, people really bitch about everything [variety.com] :

"Civilization IV: Colonization Called 'Morally Disturbing'"

I literally exclaimed "holy sh*t" out loud when I was reading an e-mail this morning listing the "Games for Windows" coming out this year and I came across this:

“Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization” (2K Games). In “Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization,” players lead one of four European nations on a quest to conquer and rule the New World."

But goddamit, am I the only one who think it's morally disturbing to make a game that celebrates COLONIZATION? It's ironic, actually, because just a few months ago a friend sent me a link to some information about the original "Colonization" game from 1994 (pictured left) that this one updates. At first, I thought it had to be a joke, but sure enough, it was real. However, I dismissed it as a relic from a time when neither developers nor players took videogames seriously as media with moral implications.

But the idea that 2K and Firaxis and Sid Meier himself would make and release a game in the year 2008 that is not only about colonization, but celebrates it by having the player control the people doing the colonizing is truly mind boggling.

Remember all the debate when Newsweek's N'Gai Croal said of the "Resident Evil 5" trailer with the African zombies that "Even if you are familiar with the franchise, if you are familiar with those images and their historical weight, you look at it and say, 'Man, that’s kind of messed up.'" Well, I agreed with N'Gai on that issue, but in my opinion, a game about colonization is about 100 times more messed up. "Throughout history, colonization regularly involved stealing, killing, abuse, deceit, and the exploitation or decimation of native people," he added. "Anybody with a shred of moral conscience who studies the history will be appalled. Whether it was British rule in India or slavery in Africa or Aboriginal children kidnapped and taken to Christian schools in Australia or the dislocation of Native Americans in the U.S., there were no positive colonization experiences."

Fritz said he's not calling for a ban on the game, emphasizing that 2K has every right to release it for sale. "But I think personally they shouldn't release it, if it's at all what it appears to be based on the early marketing," he continued. "And I'm hoping a lot of people agree with me and will say so publicly."

That's pretty ridiculous. Imagine if he knew there were nuclear weapons and slaves in Civ 4.

Re:So? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632338)

good heavens and what would they do if knew there are companies that make ww2 wargames.

Re:So? (2, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633154)

Yeah, seriously, what did the Romans ever do for us?

Re:So? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30631938)

Holy crap.

I met Cal Ripken Jr. today.

I can't believe it. I was sitting outside the Ralleys on Caliborne street, drinking a banana milkshake and eating a large order of rallyfries, when I saw a white SUV pull up to the store across the street, "Cherrry". I didn't think anything of it, but I almost choked on a mouthful of banana milkshake when I saw Cal Ripken Jr. get out of the SUV and go into Cherrry, the porno store!

I'm such a huge fan. I forgot all about my rallyfries and ran with my milkshake across the street, almost getting hit by a school bus on the way across. Even though I am still six months away from being 18, I HAD to go in the store and see Cal Ripken Jr.

So I went inside, and tried to look nonchallant, and there he was! Cal Ripken Jr was haggling with the cashier over the price of a giant rubber cock! My eyes were as wide as dinner plates.

I was afraid they were going to call the cops, since I was underage, but Cal has been my hero ever since I was a little kid.

I marched up to him and asked him for his autograph.

Since I didn't have anything for him to write on, Cal Ripken signed his name on a copy of "Tranny" and gave it to me! But that wasn't all he had to give me.

It turns out Cal is a really nice guy. The owner was eyeing me, and asked me for ID, but Cal said "no, it's cool, he's with me" I couldn't believe it! We started to talk about his incredible consecutive game streak, while Cal browsed their assortment of vibrating butt plugs.

After a little while, he asked if I wanted to see his orioles tatoo, and you better believe I didn't say no.

He gave the cashier a 20$ dollar bill and took me back to one of the private booths, taking with him several of the dildoes and vibrators he had purchased.

Cal Ripken was as good as his word, he wasted no time whipping out a nine inch cock, with a tatoo of the orioles logo on the big meaty head.

"Batter up!" Cal exclaimed, and jammed his big hot cock down my throat so hard and fast that my hand clamped down on my banana milkshake, spraying it all over Cal Ripken Jr!

Fortunately it did not get on my autographed copy of "Tranny" but whoa man!

Cal was pissed!

He took me over his knee and spanked me mercilessly, yelling "Bad boy! Do you know what happens to bad boys?"

"Lick it all off!" Cal said, then he squatted over the viewing bench. I licked all the banana milkshake off of cal's hot hard body, but that wasn't enough for him.

"You missed a spot!" cal ripken jr shouted, and he bent over and pulled down his pants and silk boxers, displaying the chocolate starfish that played more consecutive MLB games than any other. "Lick it ALL OFF!"

I was humiliated, but I felt I had no choice but to lick Cal Ripken Jr's sweaty asshole.

I licked Cal's ass for maybe three minutes, then he swiveled around and came explosively on my face. What the fuck! I'm only 17 years old.

Cal Ripken Jr. cinched up his pants and left, leaving me with nothing but my autographed copy of Tranny to show for it. I didn't even reach orgasm.

Re:So? (2, Informative)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632016)

AI is better but the interface is a pain. I don't need zoomable 3D battles of units, that's only interesting the first time you see it (like friggin' Battlechess.) I still say Firaxis peaked with Alpha Centauri.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632084)

Alpha Centauri would had been great otherwise, but future scifi thing wasn't that interesting for me. Not really the history part in Civ's either tho, I always just rushed to modern day with technology, but it's the necessary evil to build up your civilization for the modern days.

Some mix between Civ 2 and Civ 4 would be great. Better AI, better diplomacy and other little improvements, but the interface should stay the same. They should do a 15th year anniversary edition for next year, like Blue Byte did with Settlers 2.

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632576)

Alpha Centauri would had been great otherwise, but future scifi thing wasn't that interesting for me.

I liked the whole living planet thing but then again I'm a big Frank Herbert fan so I was probably part of the target audience.

Not really the history part in Civ's either tho, I always just rushed to modern day with technology, but it's the necessary evil to build up your civilization for the modern days.

Interesting. I'm the exact opposite: I like building up a civ but lose interest when the game reaches modern times. Maybe that's why I liked AC with its focus on terraforming.

They should do a 15th year anniversary edition for next year, like Blue Byte did with Settlers 2.

Sounds great but if it's going to be anything like what they did to Colonization with Civilization IV: Colonization I'd rather they didn't. Unfortunately I think they are completely invested in the new Civ IV UI so the next iteration is probably going to be based on some updated version of it.

Re:So? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632478)

You can turn that off...

Re:So? (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631854)

What's a scam about it? They explain to you in simple language that it costs money to have certain items. I play farmville when I am waiting for my brain to function enough to play AlphaC in the wee small hours of the morning (sometimes by way of Pioneers) and it's amusing enough. There's a cute little sense of community, gift-trading with friends. And it has cost me nothing but time (and a share of my internet access bill, I guess.) Don't hate the game, hate the stupid, stupid players who spend actual money on it.

Re:So? (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631900)

Why should you hate the "stupid" players that spend actual money on it?

They pay for the servers you use to play your game for free.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631932)

And even more so, why should you hate or think the people are "stupid" just because they pay for entertainment they enjoy? I wouldn't pay for it. I don't think it makes that much sense either. But if they like it and think it's worth it, just let them do what they want. It doesn't make them more stupid, they just have different priorities or things they enjoy.

Just as well as they probably think you are being stupid to buy that newest $800 graphic card or spend so much configuring your linux when you could just run windows or mac.

So? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30633234)

And even more so, why should you hate or think the people are "stupid" just because they pay for entertainment they enjoy?

Exactly. I play FarmVille but buy nothing for actual money. I also play the slot machines at the local casino once in a blue moon though this does cost me real money (20 dollars for about 3 hours of entertainment). Both games are equally useless on the large scale in my life but both are fun for different reasons.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30631998)

The servers clogging my tubes with extra useless data in a sea of useless information........

They are slowing down my torrent leeching! Can i hate them all?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632156)

And your torrent leeching is really more useful?

Re:So? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632246)

I don't really hate anyone, except the people who are talking about how evil farmville is for selling crap to suckers. I don't hate them, I just think they're fools. But since lots of people will think I'm an idiot for harvesting virtual poinsettias, I concede the point that it's a matter of taste. You're free to waste your money on whatever you like.

Re:So? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632060)

The scam part is not in buying tractors or trading gifts, but in the "offers" that give you FarmVille currency in exchange for handing over your cell phone number, to which monthly subscription charges begin accruing without your knowledge. This usually comes hidden in a survey or game of some sort in which you either hand over the cell phone number directly (in the case of some surveys) or after playing, in order to get a PIN to let you access results from the survey or game. There's clearly no need for a PIN, as the results could just be displayed on the computer without one—the scammer just wants the cell phone number.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632286)

>>Don't hate the game, hate the stupid, stupid players who spend actual money on it.

Why are they stupid? I bet most people here have spent money on games. I spent a few hundred buying games through Steam, does that make me stupid? How is spending money to get in-game items for a free game any dumber than spending money to buy a game in the first place? In both cases you get nothing that has any relevance in real life, and in both cases you do it for entertainment.
I don't play Farmville, but just like the Sim* series was popular I can see the attraction, and if a tractor helps you along in the game I can see the logic in paying for it with real money, just like back in the day I bought SimCity with real money.

Re:So? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632610)

I spent a few hundred buying games through Steam, does that make me stupid?
steam imposes drm; you're stupid for putting up with it and you're stupid for encouraging it.

you don't actually own the games you pay for on steam - but given the quality of most games nowadays, that might be considered a bonus feature.

Re:So? (2)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633020)

>> steam imposes drm; you're stupid for putting up with it and you're stupid for encouraging it.

I couldn't care less. Steam is cheaper (tons of sales, I've gotten plenty of games for 75% off), far more convenient (no physical cds to juggle, no updates to keep track of, synch to diff computers, no concern about backing your games up).

Any game for any platform is DRM'd to no end these days. Steam doesn't add shit to that, it just makes it less intrusive. Steam is the best thing to ever happen to PC gaming. Makes it almost as straightforward as console gaming.

>> you don't actually own the games you pay for on steam

Bullshit I don't. I can still play every game I ever bought on Steam, which is all that matters, and more than I can say for many games I've bought (that came on floppies or CDs that scratched).

Re:So? (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633232)

"Bullshit I don't. I can still play every game I ever bought on Steam, which is all that matters, and more than I can say for many games I've bought (that came on floppies or CDs that scratched)."

Not that I dislike Steam, but can you say you can still play those games 10-20 years down the line? When the Steam servers are shut down so are the games. I can still play games that I bought 10, 20, even 30 years ago because they're on physical media.

Re:So? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633662)

So they will release an unlocker or something similar then, like they have said. Yeah it's only their words, but others have done so too. Not that I think Valve or Steam will die anytime soon, they're completely owning their business area.

And what comes to GPP's "you don't actually own the games you pay for on steam", you don't own your physical games either. You're only licensed to use them. And your WoW and MMO's are pretty unusable too when their servers go.

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631876)

Of course its different and I'm sure he didn't really mean its comparable like that, but just gave an example (a car one too!) of the scale. It's also a far better business model than advertisement, since people like to feel better in games or have some advantages. Is it really that useful? Maybe not, but its entertaining for them, so let people do what they find entertaining.

I agree somewhat that the scammy ads thing was uncalled against Zynga, since those ads were given to players by their advertising company and their advertisers. You should instead go after the people who make scam products, otherwise they'll just move to other avenues and scam different people. Go to the source of the problem.

What I found interesting from the comments was

Electronic Arts (ERTS) market cap is $5.8bln. Zynga is rumored to be around 1/6th. I'd like to be Zynga right now as they are built around the new model in the gaming industry.

Even if we all here on /. hate twitter and facebook and such social sites (you have to interact with people!), social games on them seem to be a really big business. And it won't change from the "but they aren't real games and they're dumb!" yelling, because casual people like to play them and theres huge untapped revenues there.

Re:So? (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632254)

Even if we all here on /. hate twitter and facebook and such social sites (you have to interact with people!)...

The thing is that I'd say that even here on /. and other various sites the interaction with people part is not the issue at all. Hell geeks have been using newsgroups, IRC, and other forms of interaction over the internet since it's been around.

No, it's rather the fact that such 'social networking' sites are all about gathering your personal information and then selling it. We know this far better than our non-techie peers and as such steer away from them.

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631882)

and a crap game to boot.

That's your opinion (and mine as well, actually). But what are we when faced with the sheer amount of people who do play it, and when enough of those play it hardcore enough that they'll pay for virtual property to keep a company afloat?

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632168)

My guess is it is two things:

1) Novelty. I think the whole facebook games thing is novel to many people and thus why they are popular right now. I also think the market is more or less doomed in the long run. I think the novelty will wear off and given that most of the games are fairly poor quality people will go elsewhere.

2) People who want to play at work. Flash games are a lot more obvious than facebook.

I don't think the number of players are because it is good, I think it is just a fad.

Re:So? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632706)

Sounds like a typical American fskin religion where the pastor periodically asks the sheep for more money

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633380)

Sounds like a typical American fskin religion where the pastor periodically asks the sheep for more money

That pattern has been going on for centuries, and is not unique to the US. Religions of all kinds have demanded money all over the world.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632114)

My wife bought a tractor in farmville. She's not spent any real money on the game. Oh, and we use adblock. (Using Chrome the past few days has re-awoken the horrendous page layouts with ads.)

Re:So? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632196)

Agreed, though his comparison is silly for one other reason: you don't have to spend real money to "buy" a tractor - you can do it with coins you earn in the thing.

...now gas OTOH? That's a mother to get hold of (it requires those farmbucks, though you can get those just by leveling up).

Re:So? (2, Informative)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633738)

It's worth noting that fuel is one of the things that you naturally collect over time in Farmville -- it takes about 8 hours for my fuel gauge to refill completely. Does mean you can't always use the tractor (or harvester, or seeder), but for me, given that the only real reason I have for using the tractor is to earn the King of the Plow ribbons, I'm OK with just using the fuel as quickly as I 'distill' it (partially because I have no intention of giving Zynga any actual money).

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632894)

Nigga, hot chicks play Farmville and you can interact with them. Only fat 30sh somethings basement dwelling lonely geeks play Civ4. So, Farmville is way much better because you can get some hot blond girl ass out of it.

GOD bless them! (1, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631748)

And GOD bless America! Entrepreneurship and good old capitalist values is what will save the world. Today, millions are starving and destitue because there is not enough capitalism. They should get on Face Book and start farms, leveraging this pseudo-capital into microcredit loans from charity 2.0 microentrepreneurs in the Third World emerging Markets, and soon the DOW will be at 40,000 $$$ and everyone will be rich and wealthy if they try hard enough because with GOD all things are possible especially WEALTH!!!!!

Too many "wrong" products... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30631758)

Too many non productive "things" are becoming parts of a virtual economy. What is this? We are still living in RL, this isn't the Matrix and even if, the Matrix still has an RL "dynamic" that keeps it running.
Real products (hard machines or what have you) need to be produced and sold to make an economy (and indeed humanity) better. Not virtual "stuff"....

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (-1, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631774)

Yeah yeah, you don't enjoy games so no one should. In fact, let's ban all entertainment. They aren't really "real" and (directly) "productive" products either.

I get off your lawn now..

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631858)

I am not arguing for a planned economy here. If people want to spend money on virtual goods that is just fine by me; its also fine that sellars "produce" as many of such goods as they can market. I do think the parent has a point though. Cultural values shape to some degree or another what we "want" beyond our basic survival needs.

Its evident that great societies of the past suffered when they became to decadent. Some of this crumbled from within and others fell to invasion by groups who had allocated their labor and production differently. See Egypt and the Hittites, The Austrian Empire and the other European powers, Muscovite(Sp?) Russia if you want examples outside of the usual Rome citiation.

So I do think that perhaps we as a society are allocating far to much production to Art and Entertainment, more so Entertainment than art the two are quite different; even though there are countless cases where they overlap.

We are spending a great deal of time being entertained and entertaining, and most of us our enjoying it. I don't propose we stop doing that as individuals or as a society but It might be a good idea to step back now and then and ask what else might we be doing?

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631914)

I think that is also what will eventually fail with US. People have been adjusted to high standards of living, 24/7 entertainment and generally 'lazy' lifestyle and as time passes by, the problem just grows.

During that countries like China with billions of people, but not good standard of living or 24/7 entertainment will grow. They even banned porn so people don't get distracted or start to exchange other things in life for it (you need to take care of your sexuality with other people, and won't grow used to normal sex and go look for more kinky stuff). You can see the cultural difference in games too; asian MMO's are generally grind fests, but they like it.

It's a problem of 'freedom' and laziness of people.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632176)

I don't see the appeal in the concept of work as the definition of life. That's what machines are for.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30631922)

TripMaster Monkey, can you please leave your FOX News-esque exaggeration at the door?

We're here for sensible, intelligent discussion, and would rather not have to read your pathetically stupid and fallacious assertions.

Thanks.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631946)

We're here for sensible, intelligent discussion

Thanks.

Now you must be new here.

Forget virtual (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631892)

there is nothing here to be alarmed about. it is just an account you buy and your purchase additional bits of data they will track for you. Same as you do in a gym when you buy a membership card and then add a training schedule to it.

It is sale of a piece of entertainment. There is nothing virtual about it.

And it neatly allows people to look a bit silly when they compare sale of a physical product with the selling of a few bytes of data.

There is NO virtual. Never has been, never will be. All that you got is products and services. Farmville is a service. Same as your phone line and all things associated with it are. Your landline is connected, all it takes is a bit to be flipped in the "virtual" world for it to work. No different from buying an asset in a game.

Necessary services vs. unnecessary services (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632038)

Farmville is a service. Same as your phone line and all things associated with it are. Your landline is connected, all it takes is a bit to be flipped in the "virtual" world for it to work. No different from buying an asset in a game.

A phone line is a service that one can use to interact with suppliers of products and services considered necessary to one's continued functioning. An online game is not, apart from corner cases involving Second Life.

Right... (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633818)

So before phones, we couldn't life?

A secret phone number is a "virtual" service no different from the tractor in farmville.

Labelling a service/product differently because is considered essential is silly.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (2, Insightful)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631910)

I agree with you. In this age where the Chinese have decided to base their economy on the old methods of building real products for real people and America's economy has turned to shit, thank God capitalism and that entrepreneurial spirit are still alive in America to save us. Now we can sell virtual tractors for our virtual farms. Take that, you commie gooks!

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632186)

I'm not sure what is stupider: Your retarded post that shows extreme ignorance of economics and manufacturing (here's a hint: the US is still the world top manufacturing economy) or the fact that you screwed your racial epithet up. Gook is an epithet for Koreans, not Chinese. If you are going to be racist, you could at least try and get your terms straight.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632956)

Read his post again, it was clearly written sarcastically.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30633572)

Maybe 5 years ago, but if you turn up the "made in" or "hecho in" label of *anything*, it will almost certainly say from China. US manufacturing plants are all but shut down. Steel was regulated into the ground by the EPA, and virtually any heavy industry has to import anything more complex than an aluminum billet from elsewhere because the US just doesn't have the precision tools or manufacturing capability that they used to.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631926)

I agree with sopssa, it's a game. I think the minimum of what needs to happen to make a legitimate economy is that money has to voluntarily change hands. I don't see a virtual item is necessarily any different than some other worthless trinket. Non productive things such as games, movies and music are the same way, it now costs almost nothing extra to make more copies, but someone did have to make the original work.

There's also a point where you don't need more real things, after you have your needs met and you're living a reasonably comfortable life, you don't need more things above food, water, energy and other maintenance items. Which I think inches closer to some visions of a utopia where we spend our time in a culture of art, albiet it's generally mass produced art these days.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632316)

I think the minimum of what needs to happen to make a legitimate economy

Well, there are other things, such as the freedom to purchase from other producers, etc. So as long as competing providers can sell 'virtual tractors', there's no problem, competition works and the production of 'virtual tractors' is maximized for the resources spent on them.

On the other hand, if the 'virtual goods' can only be bought from one place, their price will be far beyond the free market value, and the 'real world' economy will be damaged as resources are diverted from cost-effective production into rent seeking ventures and economic output falls (for example, a competitive market would provide virtual tractors at a cost of near zero, so the consumer could have both a pizza and the virtual tractor, while the non-competitive market results in an either/or situation, eventually resulting in lower total wealth and the loss of pizza producers in exchange for artificially scarce objects).

That said, minor discrepancies and non-competitive pockets in an economy aren't a necessarily significant problem, but if and when 'virtual economies' become significant it may be necessary to apply some economic rules or 'free trade' requirements to them lest significant real-world resources be diverted towards flipping database bits in an extremely inefficient fashion. A pizza lost here and there is one thing, but if hundreds of thousands of real-world jobs become dedicated to camping bits in mmorpgs, then maybe one would have to require that the database interfaces be exported so those bits could be generated and provided by the lowest bidder (ie, without actual labour). Or that 'very easy' instances of games be provided to remove the incentive for mis-allocation.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633356)

I've never played Farmville but I've read a bit about it. Here's the thing. Farmville doesn't really have a sophisticated internal economy. When you buy tractors you're not really paying for a tractor, but for the game itself. Not for a couple columns bumped in a database row, but for the hardware, software, and effort that go into producing the game. The trick for the game makers is to figure out how to get people to want to buy lots of "tractors". You're right in that there's basically no effort involved in making a tractor, but it does take effort to write code into the game to support the existence and ownership of tractors. That's what you're paying for.

It's different for games that have internal economies... where in WOW people "farm" gold, and trade and sell it, both inside and outside of the game.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631942)

How is owning a big house IRL superior to owning one in a game? Seriously, if you spend a lot of your time in the game anyway, isn't it more logical to make yourself wealthy in the game than pimp out yourself in real life?

I understand the need to give ourselves basic needs like food, water and internet but at some point there really is no difference.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (3, Insightful)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632108)

People buy many useless "real" things. Any of us does. If that useless stuff is good for the economy so are the useless "virtual" things of many games.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632152)

What difference does it make? Spend it on beer which destroys your liver and you piss out, spent it on fags and go around stinking of tobacco while your lungs play russian-roulette with cancer? Spend it on a garbage plastic toy full of toxic chemicals? Virtual worlds need real live developers, admins and support staff. They needed a ton of servers and bandwidth, the user needs devices and services, all exist in the real world and operate in the same economy as the useless crap being made in third world countries you believe to be more important.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (2, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632320)

"Real" stuff like pet rocks, virtual pet rocks, virtual pets, beenie babies, prayers, etc,

Every generation has their "What the hell did we spend money on?" product. This one seems to have virtual products.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30633136)

Why do "real" products have to be sold to make the economy better? Exchange of currency is exactly what make the economy tick, and its not like this money isn't taxed or accounted for. And what does the economy have to do with Humanity? If anything, the economy is what destroys Humanity by championing wealth.

Get a new lawn.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30633546)

You seem to be forgetting two things:
* demand for virtual goods necessitates physical hardware (servers, routers, etc) as well as physical labor/jobs!
* anything is worth what people will pay for it. if they want to spend $5 now and then to stay happy and feel like they get their enjoyment's worth out of the $5, then great! I play farmville and I've spent a couple of bucks to increase my farm size faster, but i didn't have to and I was happy to support Zynga- the game is fun.

Re:Too many "wrong" products... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633560)

Too many non productive "things" are becoming parts of a virtual economy. What is this? We are still living in RL, this isn't the Matrix and even if, the Matrix still has an RL "dynamic" that keeps it running.
Real products (hard machines or what have you) need to be produced and sold to make an economy (and indeed humanity) better. Not virtual "stuff"....

Stuff like movies, software, and research findings? I wouldn't be surprised if "virtual" products combined have been right up there with agriculture with staples of our economy for a while.

Techs versus "The Cloud". (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30631812)

This needs to be the year that those of us with even the slightest degree of technical knowledge take a stand against the goddamn "Cloud".

It sounds fantastic in theory, but once in the real world, Cloud Computing falls flat on its face. My development and ops teams wasted too much time dealing with Cloud providers over the past year. So my resolution this year is to tell anyone who proposes the use of anything Cloud to cram it. We aren't doing it any longer. It's a failed approach.

Just last week, during the holidays, we had to scramble after one of our Cloud providers ran into some hardware problems and couldn't get our service restored in a timely manner. After the outage exceeded my threshold, I called up my best developers and had them put together a locally-hosted solution in a rush, and payed them quite a bit more than usual due to the inconvenient timing. Then I called up the Cloud provider and basically told our rep there that we are done using them and their shitty service. Then I called up the manager in our company who recommended them, and told him to basically go smoke a horse's cock.

Re:Techs versus "The Cloud". (0, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632120)

And what does this have to do with the story?

Just last week, during the holidays, we had to scramble after one of our Cloud providers ran into some hardware problems and couldn't get our service restored in a timely manner.

You claim to be having technical knowledge but fail to see that "Cloud" services are just managed servers? The exact same hardware problems and related slowness in restoring them could happen just as well for your dedicated servers.

And what do you ever mean by taking a stand? Write useless comments how bad "cloud" is on slashdot without ever understanding yourself what it is? Just don't use them if you think they're bad, it's simple as that. It's not replacing anything.

Re:Techs versus "The Cloud". (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632582)

Did you read the article? Hell, even the first sentence of the Slashdot synopsis mentions it:

"In a blog post, venture capitalist Fred Wilson gives his thoughts on ripe areas for tech investment in 2010 — mobile, gaming, new forms of commerce/currency, Cloud platforms/APIs, education and energy/environment."

Good try, TripMaster Monkey, but you totally fail at being a smartass, like usual.

Re:Techs versus "The Cloud". (3, Insightful)

nloop (665733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633772)

It sounds fantastic in theory, but once in the real world, Cloud Computing falls flat on its face.

Try explaining that to the 11 million people who play FarmVille. Or to Google. Sure, you don't like cloud computing, I don't love it either, but falls on its face? Nah. Epically popular? Yup.

My rule of thumb. (4, Interesting)

Eric S. Smith (162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631828)

I know nothing about this story, but I just always assume that anything built on Facebook is a scam, whether for money or ID theft. Go sell your virtual cheese elsewhere, vampire gangsters.

Aquarium Screensaver (2, Insightful)

lucm (889690) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631840)

Buying virtual tractors for a game seems ridiculous, until you compare it with buying virtual fish for a screensaver...

Re:Aquarium Screensaver (5, Interesting)

Xelios (822510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631980)

It seems ridiculous to you and me, but to the millions of people who aren't as versed in technology as the average /. user maybe not. A few weeks ago I finally caved and opened a Facebook account (albeit with fake info), solely to keep in touch with friends back home after moving to Europe. Quite a few of them are into the Farmville thing (mostly the women), so I checked that out and my first thought was "Wow, people actually pay money to buy things in this game?". I never would, but some of my friends have. I asked them why, why pay money for such ridiculously simple [crappy] games? "Why not?" they said.

I thought about it for a while, and I really didn't have a good answer. I've paid monthly fees to play MMOG's before. I pay money for a usenet account. To most of my friends spending money for these things would seem just as ridiculous. It's all a matter of perspective. For them, that tractor in Farmville is about as far as they've ventured into the gaming world outside of consoles, so why not spend a little money for it?

Now the really scary thing happened when I first opened my Facebook account. All the info I gave was fake, including my name, except the email address. I entered a really old Hotmail address that I stopped using years ago. Since then it's been my disposable email address for anything that wouldn't accept 10mintemail addresses. From this one piece of real information Facebook built a list of probable friends, and 80% of them were people I know. How they managed to pull this off with a 6 year old Hotmail address is beyond me.

Re:Aquarium Screensaver (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632020)

from other dump people who shared their address book with facebook.

Re:Aquarium Screensaver (4, Interesting)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632226)

I'll elaborate on the AC that posted a reply to you. In my experience, Facebook does 3 things to find friends for you:

1. Look through your address book and attempt to find people who match that are already in the system by e-mail (and sometimes name)
2. Dig your e-mail address out of other people's address books that they've harvested from e-mail accounts. (this may or may not be a true statement, but judging by your comment...)
3. Offer up "Friends of Friends" - chances are, you're friends with other people's friends, so they offer those too as suggested friends.

Re:Aquarium Screensaver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632240)

If you added anybody as a friend, it built the recommended list from that. I know that's how it works, as I signed up my daughter for a facebook account (she wanted to play farmville) with a throw-away email address. She added me and her mom as a friend and almost all of her recommend friends came from the intersection of mine and her moms' friends. The few exceptions were common friends of friends.

tractors - ??? - real money (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631878)

The question I have is how do tractors become real money for Zynga. This is always a big question for games that are free to enter. How do you get your players to pay with real money?

Re:tractors - ??? - real money (2, Informative)

Wolfraider (1065360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631908)

Easy, the tractors are basically free but to get fuel to farm more than half a screen costs farmville cash and that costs real money.

Re:tractors - ??? - real money (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632004)

In Farmville things either cost coins or FarmVille Dollars (FVD). Coins are easy to get: whenever you harvest something, you get coins. Coins are spent on the "mundane" things. Crops, some decorations, tractors, barns (red only), a small pond etc.

FVD are difficult to get. You get one FVD every time you level. Or you buy them. FVD's are used to buy more exotic things: barns (in a variety of colors), a large pond, special purpose seasonal stuff, a different class of decorations, fuel for your tractor, etc.

Now, you don't strictly need to have all these goodies, but as people play, they have the oppurtunity to get more stuff (of course), and you need to have a place for your stuff. The only way to get more room for your stuff is to expand your farm. Now, you can expand your farm by either having lots of friends that play FV, and then it only costs you coins, or you can buy a bigger lot, which costs FVD. If your the type of person that buys a lot of the specialty stuff, your already buying FVD so buying the larger farms isn't that big of a deal.

Now, to specifically answer the question: Although tractors, seeders and harvesters are coin based purchases, the fuel refills are not. Now, you don't need to buy the fuel, you can wait a day and get a free refill, but if you have one of the larger farms, you will not be able to harvest, plow and seed all of it on the one refill. And since you have a very limited supply of FVD that you earn.... It becomes a habit that must be paid for.
 

I was going to fabricate a pithy response, (2, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631902)

but I have to get back to Farmville! My pumpkins are dying and I have 57 gifts to receive.

What does that even mean? Also, he's lying (2, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631976)

Might as well compare the number of virtual Nazi's killed in games vs. actual Nazi's killed in WWII. I'm guessing there's probably a few gamers who have exceeded that on their own. And, like virtual tractor sales vs. actual tractor sales it's a very potent comparison that proves....I mean, shows that.....I mean, suggests....I mean, that vaguely resembles...ummmmmmm...absolutely nothing.

Might as well compare these:
Cartoon cranial anvil assaults vs actual cranial anvil assaults
"CSI" crime solving rate vs. actual crime solving rate
Virtual car theft vs. actual car theft
Porno movie pizza delivery guy sex rate vs actual pizza delivery guy sex rate

BTW, his claim is BS:
"Andrew Trader, co-founder of Zynga, said the company makes about a third of its revenue from advertising and another third from virtual goods transactions. The last third comes from companies that provide commercial offers, trading Netflix memberships and marketing surveys for in-game cash."

1/3 is not almost all.

Two salient facts, Mister Venture Capitalist (2)

garg0yle (208225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30631990)

Two things:

1. Almost entirely irrelevant is not the same as being entirely irrelevant. There are people for whom Zynga's behaviour is atrocious enough to make them think twice about using its products.

2. This doesn't change the fact that Zynga's games are buggy, derivative pieces of crap, and more than half of my friends who've tried either Farmville or CafeWorld have left their virtual farms and restaurants to gather dust. If you keep dragging newbies in, but most of those wander away due to boredom or frustration, that's not really a "growth" business plan.

Re:Two salient facts, Mister Venture Capitalist (1)

Tjebbe (36955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632958)

that's not really a "growth" business plan.

My Prediction for 2010: First big public case of Social-Networking-App-Gone-Ponzi

Um, tractors (2, Informative)

mrslacker (1122161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632092)

Except that tractors cost 30000 coins, which is easily obtained with patience, and doesn't cost any real money at all, certainly not the "FarmVille cash" - unless they've changed something recently.

Re:Um, tractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632144)

The impatient can purchase coins.

Re:Um, tractors (2, Informative)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632166)

I think the scam is that you have to use their in-game cash (Farm Cash) to buy fuel refills for the tractors/harvesters/seeders. They don't have a current way to either get fuel as a gift or to purchase it with coins - the in-game currency that you gain by planting and harvesting crops.

Similarly, expanding your farm's area can be done two ways - with coins or with their Farm Cash. But - for those of us without 200 friends that play farmville on a casual basis, if you want to expand the farm you need to have X number of neighbors for each upgrade if you use coins.

Also, I haven't found a way to get Farm Cash without actually spending real money. Hence, I haven't spent the money on it because like others here, it's just a nice break away from reality for a few minutes. If that means I'm slightly hindered in my "progress towards nothing" then so be it.

Re:Um, tractors (2, Informative)

mrslacker (1122161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632238)

Yes, fair enough. But the immediate suggestion elsewhere that buying tractors helps Zynga is false.

I admit it, I'm level 40 - have been playing for a long time. I've never spent any money on it. You do get given FV cash occasionally on levelling up, but not enough to make a difference. I think I have 15 neighbors or something. I do my wife's farm too, which has helped with various bonuses, etc.

Yes, the fuel thing is frustrating, since a tank is nowhere near enough to harvest/plough/seed, and you are reduced to thousands of clicks. However, some of the "holiday gifts" still available contain 1 or 5 tanks of gas, and next week is "free fuel week", whatever that means. No doubt of course as a promotion to encourage people later to buy it.

Re:Um, tractors (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632272)

I think the scam is that you have to use their in-game cash (Farm Cash) to buy fuel refills for the tractors/harvesters/seeders. They don't have a current way to either get fuel as a gift or to purchase it with coins - the in-game currency that you gain by planting and harvesting crops.

How is that a scam? It's not scamming people out of their money - they know they're buying in-game cash for the game to get fuel.

Re:Um, tractors (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633116)

In my opinion, I feel it is a scam because I don't think that spending money on virtual items is a good investment.

Now, others may respond with "Well, isn't your time worth money? Then buy the fuel and save time." Well, if my choices are being bored or being slightly entertained by growing a farm, then that's my choice that I can make and live with. I can truly deal with spending a little more time clicking than spending money on something that at the end of the day isn't getting me anywhere in life once it's all said and done.

Again: My stating that it's a scam is my opinion. I guess I did state overall that it "is" a scam rather than it's my opinion that it's a scam, but that wasn't the intent. I agree that others may not feel that it is a scam, but I feel it is when there is no other reliable way to get certain items other than to buy them with my real-world cash.

Re:Um, tractors (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30633590)

Exactly. Nothing NECESSARY to the game costs actual money. Even the tractors themselves are just an option to make things easier, but I did buy one, and I did use coins. Heck, you can get 30,000 in coins in a day if you try hard enough.

virtual sales for virtual dollars (2, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632126)

This is not the same as virtual tractors sold for real dollars. In farmville, if you play the game it earns you points you can use to buy a tractor. This would be like saying that more shields were sold in Zelda for NES than were ever sold in real life, and that this fact somehow made Zelda a great game. (Zelda is great for other reasons)

Uhh... (2, Informative)

segin (883667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632230)

I said in my etsy/san telmo post the other day that more tractors are sold every day in Farmville than are sold in the US every year.

Well, at least you know why the economy is down the shitter, everyone's busy playing Farmville and not doing something productive.

But who am I to judge, all I do is sit around and read Slashdot all day, so...

Re:Uhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632358)

I think that's the post-of-the-day right there.

People spend money on video games. (1, Troll)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632244)

I was about to say, "Yeah, but people have been spending money on video games ever since "Space Invaders". But I quickly realized that there are a couple of significant differences between this and the 80's coin-op arcade.

1. You can burn a LOT more time for a lot less money today.

2. Pac Man and Donkey Kong were interactive puzzles which only took a few minutes to play in most cases. They were carnival attractions which you visited for a laugh and then left behind. Games today are more like extended dream states which offer much stronger and much more quickly realized psychological rewards than real life does. --Which is why many people spend more of their waking hours and useful energy on virtual worlds than they do in the real world. It's REAL escapism.

It is habit forming, and this means that on a certain level it is also chemically addictive. But it's also relatively easy to choose against if you wish. But like Television, nearly everybody is addicted and so addiction is considered culturally normal, and thus to choose against it is actually counter-intuitive in the sense that we are all pack animals with a hard-wired feeling of comfort when everybody is mimicking each other's behavior.

For people to disengage, it will take public discussion of it as a problem, rather like the whole tobacco thing. (But since tobacco enhances awareness and video games erode it, I doubt we'll be seeing any such movement; certainly not from the government in any significant way). Our entire society is rotting from too much entertainment, and history shows that typically populations just don't disengage in time from these sorts of influences to prevent the death of a society. It's happening all around us right now!

Buying pretend tractors is just a tiny piece of the whole enchilada.

-FL

Re:People spend money on video games. (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632672)

Pac Man fever was real. For some people it was the WoW/Evercrack of its era.

Re:People spend money on video games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632678)

enchiladas? Yummy! Off to lunch....after two more hours of Farmville.

Re:People spend money on video games. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30633528)

Thanks for forcing your sig on me instead of letting me filter it out like I'd rather do.

Re:People spend money on video games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30633798)

Our entire society is rotting from too much entertainment, and history shows that typically populations just don't disengage in time from these sorts of influences to prevent the death of a society

Citation required. All I can think of is you're channeling Gibbons, or perhaps some Heinlein-esque scifi worlds. I'm 48 and a lifelong reader of History, and it's not clear to me at all what you're basing that assertion on, so please illustrate.

(BTW, smoking doesn't enhance awareness. It's a deadener, which is why it's used to 'calm the nerves' in a shock situation - very common for both smokers and non-smokers in the recent past like WW2. For the already addicted, it becomes an awareness enhancement only insomuch that getting your next hit shuts up the brain's screaming for nicotine. Which is why I'm having a morning drag of the damn weed right now.)

Adverbs = lie detectors (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632356)

Follow that last sentence: " but is almost entirely irrelevant."

Someone needs to teach this dipshit how to lie. It's not almost entirely that hard.

Stupid (1)

dis0wned (1678250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632380)

Personally, I think the game is stupid. There are tons of people out there that have nothing better to do than click for hours on end. As far as spending money on a game, this is nothing new. Look at WOW, XBOX, etc... This is just a game for slightly slower people.

If the scams are a Red Herring, stop them. (3, Insightful)

voidstin (51561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30632682)

So, if the revenue really comes from honestly entertained consumers trading money for an enjoyable experience, fine. Do that. Stop it with the text message scams and toolbar downloads. [gawker.com] .

But, since $9.99/mo in hidden text message charges > $1 for a tractor, it seems to me that the tractor is the red herring, in order to get you to the far more profitable malware. But Zynga can easily prove me wrong by stopping these practices....

Bad statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632690)

This was a great example of a pointless statistic. It is possible to sell more tractors in Farmville than the US precisely because the US has 1200 tractors per 1000 agricultural workers. That is 1.2 tractors per person engaged in agriculture. How many more can you sell?

I wish people would stop playing games that allow them to pretend to live in mythological farm culture and actually pay attention to our real food supply and the dangers of this large scale production.

Missing the potential (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632840)

Farmville, and games like it, are just the beginning of a new wave of social engineering and virtual product testing. As these virtual worlds become more common, governments will step in and test new policies before implementing them in the real world. Not sure how that new tax is going to affect your national economy. Build a big game and try it in your virtual economy before going live.

And for you naysayers who will claim no government agency would ever create a virtual game, may I remind you that both the military and NASA have created video games already. It's only a matter of time before the Fed makes a virtual banking game, or a SIM Stock Market. When Trillions of dollars are at stake, testing before implementation is the only sane answer.

This also goes for product testing, political campaign testing. The virtual worlds can tell you a lot about how people will react to product pricing and uses.

I'm not saying that Farmville or any of the current MMOs are ready to do this yet. But soon we'll start seeing games where the true purpose is testing the reaction of massive numbers of people -- something that virtual world gaming lends itself to.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30632858)

> more tractors are sold every day in Farmville than are sold in the US every year

Boy, I'm depressed about this -- and I don't even live in the USA!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...