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FarmVille is "kind of malicious" says Braid creator

Jonathan Blow says popular Facebook game is just "reward structure layered on reward structure" with no game at all; also takes issue with Plants vs. Zombies 2.


Zynga's popular Facebook game FarmVille is not really a game at all and is "actually kind of malicious," Braid creator Jonathan Blow said during a recent academic presentation.

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"If you look at a game like Farmville, there's actually no game there. It's just reward structure layered on reward structure layered on reward structure with a hollow center," Blow said.

His comments were part of a public Neuroethics Society meeting that Blow spoke at in November. The full presentation was just recently published and is available at the University of California at San Diego's website.

Blow further claimed that Zynga's only aim with FarmVille is to encourage players to spend real-world money for virtual items or rope in their friends.

"All they're trying to do is get you to either give them money or pull friends into the game in order to potentially, eventually give them money," Blow said.

Blow also took issue with PopCap's recently released free-to-play game Plants vs. Zombies 2. In particular, he called out the game's tutorial, which can't be completed until players are shown how to spend real-world money on virtual items, even though the entire game can be completed without paying a penny.

"This is a way that they're trying to profit from you. And they know that rather than just tell you how to do this; when they can make you perform an action that they want you to perform later, you've crossed a barrier, you've broken an initial resistance, and it's easier to get you to do stuff later," Blow said.

We've reached out to Zynga and PopCap for comment on Blow's recent statements.

Blow is currently working on The Witness, set to launch as a timed-exclusive for the PlayStation 4 sometime in 2014. He also is interested in making an MMO.

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