Thursday, March 11, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Popular Facebook simulation game FarmVille has added federal farm subsidies, driving smaller plots into bankruptcy and favoring large agribusinesses. "We've tried to model our sim after USDA programs," said Albie Peck of Zynga, creators of FarmVille. "With that in mind, handouts are available to growers of wheat, cotton, corn, rice and Teddy Bears. Largess is also dished out to farmers who join Facebook's Conservation Reserve Program. By allowing your plots to go fallow, you receive a subsidy in farm dollars while driving up the price of your neighbors crops." Bigger is better in the new FarmVille, adds Peck. Players may pursue the traditional path of acquiring more neighbors, experience points, and gifts in order to purchase additional land or else donate real money to the FarmVille Growers Association. FGA members are automatically elevated to agribusiness level, enrolled in a political action committee, and given farm dollar subsides which lower prices, encouraging bucolic avatars to plant even more crops, driving down the price and increasing subsidies. In addition, Peck encouraged gamers to divide their plots into shell farms incorporated under the names of their children and apply for individual subsidies. "Like the USDA, we don't really check," says Peck. "And if we did, we wouldn't find anything wrong." Peck states Zynga is considering subsidizing herds of elephants. "There's been push back within the company. Some people are afraid we'll turn subsidies into a joke."