It has been less than six months since Playdom acquired smaller game developer Green Patch, creators of Lil Green Patch. On the 29th of April, as reported by Tech Crunch, Playdom announced that they would be shutting down a number of the Green Patch brands, including Lil Green Patch, Lil Blue Cove, and Lil Eco Racer. The only game to escape the axe is Lil Farm Life, which has 3.4 million monthly users.
The games will only be available until June 10th, 2010. At this point they will be shut down and removed from Facebook. Users will have to check a pop-up message acknowledging that they have read and understood a list of facts, including that any real currency spent in the game is non-refundable. The official Playdom announcement can be found on the forums here.
As unfortunate as this incident is for players of the games, is it a sign of a greater problem? Are the social gaming giants, like Zynga, forcing other game developers to abandon their smaller efforts in order to successfully compete in a rapidly growing market? It certainly seems that this may be the case. The social gaming world is still in its first years of rapid growth and expansion. So far, social gaming has been characterized by exponential growth, rapid iterations and a flooded market. There are tons of games out there, and although many of them are clones of other successful brands (a la FarmVille, Country Story, Lil Farm Life) there are a lot of unique and exciting games that offer something different. It would be a shame to see the innovation get squashed out of competitive necessity.
Perhaps these are unfounded fears. Perhaps the reasons that Playdom claims it is shutting down the Green Patch brands, because they “no longer have the resources to support [the games] in the way that makes sense for us and our players”, are unrelated to the industry as a whole. And perhaps this move will be a blessing in the long run for Playdom fans. The concentration of their efforts on new games may reward us, the players, with new and innovative social gaming experiences. Regardless, June 10th will see the end for one of the original top ranked Facebook games, Lil Green Patch.