Pot Farm from East Side Games and Brain Warp Studios has been available on Facebook for some time now — we last looked at it a whole two years ago — but the game has been seeing a surprising resurgence in popularity in recent months. At the time of writing, the game’s monthly active users figure is back up to 880,000 — closing in on the figure of a million MAU that we quoted in our review from 2010.
Pot Farm is a relatively simple farming game that casts players in the role of a bedraggled, bearded hippy running a “crop”-growing operation of questionable legality. The basic game flow revolves around players planting various crops, waiting for them to mature (or fertilizing them to make them grow instantly) and then harvesting them to sell and earn money.
The twist on the basic farming game formula is the fact that some of the fictional in-game crops are more illegal than others. Planting an illegal crop negatively impacts the player’s “protection” rating. If this stat drops to and remains at zero, the local park ranger will show up and confiscate the illegal plants if the player does not harvest them quickly enough. Since the illegal plants typically yield higher profits than the legal ones, players are encouraged to take this risk in order to build up their finances. Players may also build various structures to increase their protection, however, ranging from legal crops such as hops and corn to fir trees blocking the operation from prying eyes, angry bears and, oddly, inflatable sheep.
The game has evolved somewhat since its original release, mostly in terms of interface. There are also a wide variety of time-limited quests for players to participate in, with special themed rewards on offer for those who complete the activities — currently based loosely on Alice in Wonderland. Clicking on links from the official community page also rewards players with “mystery seeds” that have the potential to grow into highly valuable plants over time. Early in the game, it’s possible to gain four or five levels and a considerable amount of soft currency in a matter of minutes simply by planting all of these seeds.
Another good addition is the introduction of large tools that allow players to plant, harvest and fertilize four spaces on the farm at once, alleviating the “click fatigue” that a lot of farming sims invoke in high-level players. These aren’t available to players at all times, however — they must be charged up by using “Puff Puff Passes.” These may either be purchased using the game’s hard currency — which is rather generously handed out through play as well as being purchasable — or crafted by using various special items created through the use of the game’s “Contraption” structures.
For all the good things the game does, though, the social features haven’t really evolved in the last two years. Visiting a friend’s farm is a largely pointless endeavor since there is nothing to do once the player is there. Elsewhere, social features don’t move much beyond basic gifting and sharing of achievements on players’ Timelines and there’s no means of direct social interaction. This doesn’t seem to have affected the game’s popularity, however.
It’s not clear if it was a single contributing factor that has led to the resurgence in popularity for Pot Farm, or whether it was a combination of things. The developers have certainly been making strong efforts to promote the game recently and are hoping to get a million Likes on the official community page by June 20 — at the time of writing, the figure stands at around the 995,000 mark, so it looks like they will probably make it.
Pot Farm is a decent game that is very player-friendly — it doesn’t throttle players’ sessions with energy mechanics, it’s generous with handing out hard currency for free and engaging with the brand on Facebook allows players to make rapid progress without having to bug their friends. Its basic game mechanics are unimaginative and derivative and the theme may offend some people, but the resurgence in audience figures after two years suggests that the teams at East Side Games and Brain Warp Studios are absolutely doing something right.
Still going strong after two years — an impressive achievement in this business.