Green Farm is Gameloft’s second release on Google+ after GT Racing: Motor Academy, and the first farming sim to hit the social network. The game itself isn’t new, however — it’s been available on Facebook since September 2010, reaching a peak MAU figure just shy of 550,000 shortly after launch, though this has now declined to around the 20,000 mark. There is also a free iOS version available, along with a paid Java edition for feature phones.
Predictably, gameplay is very similar to Zynga’s FarmVille and its ilk, with players initially designing their own avatar (which can be named and gendered differently from the player’s G+ account if they desire) and running through a short tutorial introducing the basic game concepts. Early gameplay largely revolves around plowing plots of land, planting seeds in them and then harvesting them to earn coins. Animals may also be placed around the farm, grown to maturity and then sold. Players are able to take ownership of these animals by renaming them whatever they wish.
Later, players are able to purchase machinery which automates many of the processes on their farm, including plowing, seeding, harvesting, fertilizing and cleaning up overgrown plants. Some of these are purchasable immediately using hard currency, while others may be purchased through earning sufficient soft currency. The very best machines which can be purchased through soft currency are also level-locked, meaning players must prove their dedication to their farm before being able to use them. All machines share a single energy bar which is gradually depleted as they complete their tasks. When this runs out, players are able to continue completing tasks manually using their avatar, but must either wait for energy to refill (at the rate of 1 point every 5 minutes) or purchase an instant refill to continue using their machines.
There are a wide variety of seeds for players to plant on their farms from the outset of the game, with each varying in the amount of time it takes to grow to maturity. Crops can be grown quicker with one type of fertilizer, or encouraged to grow to “super size” with a different kind. A number of organic crops are also available for players to plant, and harvesting these carries a chance of providing free seeds, making them a good choice for those hoping to make their farm more self-sufficient.
Organic produce is just one of the many eco-friendly aspects of the game which give the game its “Green” title. Players are able to purchase a variety of eco-friendly buildings to put on their farm, some of which produce profits over time, while some save money on energy costs for machinery.
Missions that pop up at the side of the screen are largely concerned with encouraging players to play socially — the very first mission given is to add three neighbors, for example, while subsequent ones task players with fertilizing friends’ crops or chasing away wild animals on neighboring farms. The nature of the missions mean that players are largely left to their own devices on how they want to develop their farm, but are also encouraged to visit friends’ farms to see the approaches they have taken. It’s a much greater degree of trust in the player’s judgement than many other social games with more lengthy tutorials provide.
While mostly technically polished and well presented, the game has one strange flaw that mars the user experience a little — when required to enter text, either to rename an animal or type into the game’s real-time chat facility, the player is forced to switch out of full screen mode. Entering text is a relatively rare activity in the game, meaning it will be an inconsequential issue for most players, but it’s still a little disappointing to see the immersion broken on those rare occasions due to a flawed interface element.
Despite this, Green Farm is a highly competent example of a social farming simulation. It doesn’t add anything revolutionary to the genre, though the eco-friendly angle is a pleasing, socially responsible twist. As the first farming simulation on Google+, too, it carries the potential to be both profitable and popular if Gameloft is willing to put some effort into user acquisition.
Nothing we haven’t seen in the farming genre before, but as the first game of its type on G+, Green Farm is likely to enjoy moderate success.