“Don’t steal my plants from my farm.” “Have you watered your farm today?” These daily greetings about farming are getting popular in most offices in Taiwan recently. For many Taiwanese, the hot flash game called “Happy Farm” is their motivation for Facebook usage.
“Happy Farm” features social networking and gaming. Each user owns a virtual farm for cultivation. Users have to check their farms, and water and weed from time to time. Friends on Facebook are able to steal plants and send gifts, which are the most interactive and fun parts of the game. Furthermore, it’s easy to play and kills employee boredom in the office. As a result, the game’s popularity has grown amazingly. Several similar games were also developed to attract users.
Because of this intense, widespread addiction to the game, Facebook draws a huge amount of traffic in Taiwan. Total registered members have reached 3.2 million, a number of users that exceeds the total population of Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. According to Checkfacebook.com, Taiwan is also one of the countries that has grown its members most rapidly during the past week, second only to China. There is even a part-time job available to help people take care of their virtual farms while they are working. Even so, the game is a distraction to the extent that companies have started to prohibit employees from using Facebook in the office. One survey shows that 31 percent of Taiwanese users use Facebook for recreation, with only 20 percent of users use it for connecting with friends. This phenomenon was probably not anticipated by Facebook.
A flash game has helped Facebook’s overseas market in Taiwan, more than any other marketing strategy. This situation reflects differences between cultures. The trend of flash games might fade away, but how to keep people’s attention will remain a future challenge for Facebook.