Saturday, October 22, 2011

Addiction and Financial Loss Due to Facebook Gaming?

A City With a View!

I found a story online about how a 12 year-old boy in the United Kingdom spent over £900 (almost $1500 in US currency) for Facebook credits, so that he could progress faster in "Farmville", a Facebook game that is very popular.

 Most Facebook games are "freemium games", meaning there is no cost to play but players have the option of purchasing premium content. 

Read the story here

 Farmville allows members to manage a virtual farm by planting, growing and harvesting crops, trees and livestock.  This game is just one of the many games that allows the use of "Facebook Credits" to progress quicker.  A person can also use these credits to "buy" virtual items in the games that aren't available to a "non-paying" player.

All it takes is credit card information being entered one time, because from then on, the player just has to click one or two buttons to "purchase" more credits.  A person can also charge Facebook Credits to their mobile phone using a program that adds the charges to the person's cell phone bill.  A player can also use PayPal to purchase the credits.

Facebook games all work on a "Credit System".  When a player first starts playing a Facebook game, they are given a certain amount of starting credits to begin with.  In most games, one Facebook Credit is equal to one "game dollar".  In other games, the ratio is worse.

Below is the cost of Facebook Credits (in US Dollars...USD) and how many credits your money will get you:

     50 Credits for $5.00 US
   105 Credits for $10.00 USD (5% bonus)
   550 Credits for $50.00 USD (10% bonus
1,120 Credits for $100.00 USD (12% bonus)
2,360 Credits for $200.00 USD (18% bonus)

I used to play "Farmville", but I don't anymore.  I do, however play a similar game that is made by ZYNGA, the creator of "Farmville".  This game is called "Cityville", and the goal is to develop a city by farming, constructing buildings, and collecting rent.

In the game, you, the player, are given quests to finish.  By purchasing Facebook Credits, a player can progress faster and finish the quests without having to wait like a non-paying player would.  You can also use the credits to buy premium items such as buildings that bring in more "rent", again allowing you to progress at a faster rate than you would by not paying for credits.

Another game that I play on Facebook is called "Gnome Town" and is created by Playdom.  In this game, you meet a wise, old gnome who needs your help to stop the Evil Gnome from terrorizing the entire forest.  Like "Cityville", you are given quests to complete in order to progress in the game.  Also like "Cityville", you can buy buildings, crops, and other items to help the gnomes grow their society.

The top 5 games on Facebook as of right now are:
  1. Cityville (15,264,869 users)
  2. The Sims Social (9,451,014 users)
  3. Farmville (7,404,335 users)
  4. Texas Holdem Poker (6,243,374 users)
  5. Empires & Allies (4,883,470 users)

Let's say that we take the #1 game, which is "Cityville" with over 15 million users, and for our purposes, let's say that 1% spends $100/month on the game  (In my opinion, this is a low number and that the figures are probably higher).  This comes to 152,649 users at $100/month, and is equal to over fifteen million dollars a month that this game is pulling in!  Now you can see the entrenchment of Facebook's gaming industry.  In my opinion, this is right on par with online gambling.

So what happened to the 12 year-old boy in the story at the beginning? He had his Facebook account revoked/closed by Facebook, and his VIRTUAL farm just vanished within a matter of seconds, taking with it the REAL money and time that he put into it and leaving him with absolutely nothing but shame and guilt....and probably a sore bottom!

And That's What Sarah Says!!!

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