It's been skewered by South Park, blamed for at least one very high credit card bill, and heralded by thousands of users as the greatest game on Earth. And now the makers of FarmVille have signed an agreement with Facebook that will keep the game on the popular social network for at least five more years.
For FarmVille fans, this is fantastic news.
For the rest of us – well, let's just say we're preparing for 60 more long months of profile updates about corn and pigs.
Of course, this all could have gone a very different way. Late last week, the Times of London reported that Facebook and Zynga, the creators of Farmville, were locked in a dispute over the game's currency system. Facebook currently takes a 30 percent commission of every real money interaction logged by FarmVille users. Zynga apparently called the cut prohibitive, and threatened to pick up its cows and chickens and bring everything to an independent site.
Disaster averted. “We are pleased to enter into a new agreement with Zynga to enhance the experience for Facebook users who play Zynga games,” Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, says today in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with Zynga and all of our developers to increase the opportunities on our platform.”
FarmVille is a social media game which allows players to manage crops and livestock on a sprawling virtual farm. The game runs entirely inside Facebook, and is mostly free, although users are invited to pay for certain upgrades. In April, critics assailed Zynga about the game's pay structure when a UK boy ran up a $1,400 bill on FarmVille in a matter of weeks.
"I do think [Zynga needs] to shoulder some responsibility in this business and put systems in place to stop this happening again," the boy's mother said. "The fact that he was using a card in a different name should bring up some sort of security and the online secure payment filter seems to be bypassed for Facebook payments."
No word yet on whether Zynga has considered implementing those changes.