Welcome to another installment of the Thursday Throwdown – we’ve taken a bit of a break from the feature for the last two weeks, in order to bring you coverage of the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, but we’re back and better than ever, with the biggest Throwdown we’ve ever had, pitting the biggest (in terms of popularity) Facebook game, Zynga’s FarmVille, against the game’s most noteworthy predecessor, Farm Town, from Slashkey.
According to the latest App Data figures, Farm Town launched in April of 2009 and now sits at around 6.4 million monthly active users, whereas FarmVille, which launched officially in July of 2009, has been hovering around the 70 million monthly active users mark for a few months now.
For someone who is new to Facebook gaming in general, one of the most popular genres is, obviously, the farming genre, and these two games exemplify the heart of that genre. If you haven’t played either game, they can both be described in much the same way – You’ll take on the life of a farmer, growing crops, trees, and the like on your farm. You’ll plant, plow and harvest each square of your crop individually, and can use the profits earned to buy decorations for your farm and even more crops, continuing in the cycle of money-making in the game.
However, as always, where FarmVille and Farm Town are incredibly reminiscent of one another, there are some striking differences to be found, for those who are willing to dive in and play both.
One of the biggest differences between the two games is found when it comes to social interaction in the games. While you can send free gifts to friends in both games, in FarmVille, you’ll simply be able to visit a friend’s farm, help fertilize their crops, and feed their chickens, while in Farm Town, there is an entire town economy, complete with a very crowded marketplace area, where you’ll be able to sell your harvested crops, and even hire “Farm Hands” that will help you around your farm. These Farm Hands come in the form of real people, like you and me, who can be hired to do work on your farm, with you earning 25% more profits in the process.
These social areas allow you to chat with other Farm Town users in real time. You can select the language you speak from a drop-down menu, and will then be spawned into a room filled with other players that you can chat and interact with.
Another difference is the inclusion of a system called “Facilities” in Farm Town. While FarmVille has been hinting at the eventual release of Crafting Cottages in the game for some time, as of now, Farm Town allows you to use your harvested items or gifts from friends (crops, flowers, trees, and animals) and turn them into something else – make Flour out of Wheat or make Juice from fruits, as examples.
For those who have massive fields, another difference can be found in the fuel system of both games. FarmVille users will find fuel randomly when helping on friends’ farms, completing item collections, opening mystery eggs, and so on, while in Farm Town, there is a complex fuel system, which depends on how many neighbors you have (both active and inactive), your game level, and how many friends you’ve helped.
As with all other situations, FarmVille and Farm Town contain more than just the huge, glaring differences, and here are some of the smaller ones:
- FarmVille’s land expansion is accessible via the game’s store, while in Farm Town, you can travel to the Realtor’s Office via the game’s map (another difference – FarmVille contains no map) to purchase them.
- You can fish in Farm Town, while you cannot in FarmVille.
- You can purchase basic animals, like cows, in FarmVille. Meanwhile, if you want a Cow in Farm Town, you’ll need to be sent one as a gift. If you don’t have any Farm Town friends, this limits your progress with Facilities, as you won’t have any Milk from the Cows to produce Cheese, as an example.
- You can add paths to your farm in Farm Town, while in FarmVille you can create paths with fencing, or you can change the entire color of your land, going from grass to desert to snow and back again with the press of a button (and 1,000 coins).
- There are more opportunities to find free items from your news feed when playing FarmVille than playing Farm Town. Depending on how active you are in the game, you could outfit your entire stock of animal buildings in FarmVille via posts found on the news feed, which give away all things from Calves (which can grow into cows), Chickens, Foals (which can grow into Horses).
- FarmVille offers more of a focus on limited edition item themes, allowing those users who love to decorate a massive supply of ever changing items. This isn’t to say that Farm Town doesn’t offer new items, but FarmVille’s quantity can’t be topped.
- FarmVille offers a biplane, allowing you to grow your crops instantly.
- FarmVille allows you to master crops, which rewards you with experience points and coins for repeatedly growing a particular kind of crop, while Farm Town does not.
Overall, there’s one major statement that can be made about both games. While Farm Town contains more individual things “to do,” mainly because of the addition of the social interaction features (think “chat rooms”), whether or not these added features really add anything to the gameplay experience will be up to each individual player.
So what do you think? Do you appreciate the added variety of gameplay scenarios offered by Farm Town? Or do you like the focused gameplay found in FarmVille, that allows you to become very very good at a smaller range of tasks with just as much effort?
As always, we’ll leave the final decision up to you – let us know which game you think is better by voting in our handy-dandy poll below. Of course, you can let us know your thoughts about both games in the comment section below, but if you’d really like to get your chat on with other farmers, head over to our Forums and let the discussion fly!