The Rise Of FarmVille And How Harvest Moon Can Grow From It

By Spencer . May 6, 2010 . 3:29pm

image FarmVille, the darling of Zynga, has been a mega hit on Facebook with millions of players each day. It also has a lot in common with the beloved Harvest Moon series, perhaps enough to say Farmville was inspired by it.


With the popularity of farming games on the rise, we spoke with Graham Markay, Vice President of Operations at Natsume, about the rise of FarmVille, if it affected the Harvest Moon series in anyway and what Harvest Moon can learn from Zynga’s game.


The farming genre exploded over the last year! FarmVille is (sometimes annoyingly) everywhere. What elements of the Facebook hit do you think are similar to Harvest Moon?


Graham Markay, Vice President of Operations at Natsume: Building a farm is a key part of both games. The player starts with just a little farm, and some basic crops to grow, maybe a little livestock to raise. Then by reinvesting the money that you earn, you can expand your farm, get better crops, and raise different types of animals. Both games definitely reward the player for the hard work they put into their farm.


What’s different about the two games?


Well, Farmville is really designed to deliver a bite-sized gaming experience. You play for five or ten minutes on your break, then go do something else. Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley, on the other hand, delivers the depth and longevity that you only get with a full retail game. You’ve got a whole town full of characters to meet, women you can woo and marry, jobs you can do to earn extra money and learn new skills, and a branching storyline that gives your actions real weight and purpose.


HM HOLV (17)


Have you noticed any spillover? Maybe FarmVille fans converting to Harvest Moon?


We can see a bit of a crossover between the Harvest Moon series and Farmville, we believe the main reason we don’t see more is due to the platforms and the cost associated with each.


Better question… how can you make Harvest Moon appeal to millions of FarmVille fans?


Well, that’s an interesting question. There’s a pretty big difference between the gaming experience people want on Facebook versus what they look for on a console or handheld. Facebook games are all about giving you a little bit of game each day. You hop on for ten, maybe twenty minutes (for some…longer), and then you have done everything you can for at least a few hours.


It would be pretty interesting to try marrying that sort of design with the RPG and relationship-building aspects that are such a big part of the Harvest Moon experience.


What do you think the Harvest Moon series can learn from FarmVille?


Making the games a social experience…that is something Farmville and all of Zynga games do very well.  The Harvest Moon series could learn to make your gaming experience more connected to that of your friends. That’s something that’ll be more possible as the online capabilities of handhelds and consoles mature.


HM HOLV (19)


Isn’t Marvelous developing a Harvest Moon Facebook game?


There is already a Bokujo Monogatari game available for Mixi in Japan (one of Japan’s versions of Facebook).  At this time there has been no announcement of a Harvest Moon game for Facebook.


I have to ask because my readers really want it… are you bringing Rune Factory 3 to North America?


I wish I had some exciting news for your readers…but at this time there has been no announcements regarding the Rune Factory series.

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  • Haha yeah i see this everywhere, and i tell everyone is just a weird copy of harvest moon games!

    Darn D: i want rune factory 3 T_T, is sad they dont havy any news on that.

    Also a goof way to make harvest moon games better is a better story, if it just had that, i know harvest moon would be perfect

    • Joanna

      I missed what you said before I commented, but I second making the story aspect stronger. Like having mini arcs for each character to get to know them better (beyond rival heart events of course), or better character I.A. so that they actually say different and relevant things (like if it’s raining they say something about the rain, a new character moves in they say something about them, or about something pertaining to the season you are currently in) and depending on the level of your relationship with them, they act differently. Yup that would be the next step for HM, but I can see this requiring a lot of work. Making a robust I.A. for lots of characters is no easy task, but if it were ever viable, I would love to see it implemented. But maybe the console HM games already have this to some degree? I’m mostly a handheld player, so I only have experience with the handheld installments.

      • Thats exactly what i want for HM games! yeah it would be a lot of work, but this would be close to rune factory a little in dialogues related, just without battles and more into farming :) that would be the perfect HM

    • have* instead of havy, and good* not goof, couldnt edit it, :/ and was in a hurry when i wrote that, sorry -.-

  • i’m just waiting to hear an announcement a harest moon mmo!

  • Joanna

    I just want to say, don’t change Harvest Moon, I love it for what it is. If you must try to capture those millions make a spin off HM game. I do encourage expanding though, I think the ‘bite-sized’ aspect implies taking stuff out to make it playable in shorter bursts, like removing the village, or making it smaller. But if that’s not what is being implied, then I don’t mind a HM game with a bit of distinct gameplay.

    btw, isn’t XSeed publishing Rune Factory now? Or are was the Wii Rune Factory a one time deal?

    • it seems it was a one time deal, i sent them an email asking if they had any plans for RF3 (and i think many did) and they said they don’t have any plans for that

  • kupomogli

    Once you go Rune Factory you never go back. I own RF2 for the DS. I’d like to see a PSP Rune Factory. If I ever happen to pick up a Wii one of the games I’ll definitely pick up will be the Rune Factory game on it.

    Last time I’ve played a Harvest Moon game I liked was on the GBA.

  • JeremyR

    FarmVille was actually just a knockoff of Farm Town, another facebook game. Though I’m sure the latter was heavily inspired by HM.

  • The most I’d implement would be to have a few more optional decorations to place around the farm or in the house. Change couch colors, choose bed types, fence types. Nothing too crazy. Apart from that, still loving HM series, and lately, addicted to Frontier

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