Fairyland Pairs Cuteness and Complexity

[Editor’s Note: The reviews on Inside Social Games tend to focus on new or successful Facebook games that appear on our weekly rankings lists of games by traffic growth, informed by research from our traffic tracking service, AppData. Every so often, however, our reviewers find themselves fascinated by a game that may not be new or may not enjoy any particular advantage in traffic or monetization. Our weekly reviews examine these social games, which otherwise might fly under the radar.]

About two years ago, most Facebook games were simple collection games and what I played were variations of games like African Safari and Lil’ Green Patch — collections games that benefited charitable organizations. I started playing Fairyland because a friend had posted the cutest creatures from the game on her Wall and it turned out that developer Play and Connect, Ltd. donated some of their proceeds to the Nature Conservancy. Nearly two years later, I’m still playing.

Game Overview

Launched in 2008, Fairyland is a virtual farming simulation and collection game. Players buy flower pots, plant seeds, water and harvest the fruit of their labor. Each plant will attract specific wildlife that eats a certain food. Players watering plants have a chance of spotting these creatures and winning diamonds. Players also receive a message that they save one (or more) square foot of rain forest each time they harvest the fruit of a plant.

When players start the game, they receive 175 gold, 25 diamonds and 3 sprinkles of stardust and may have nine items in the garden (five at start), two of which can be feeding tables for wild life. They name a garden helper — a fairy or elf to which ownership of the garden most of the activity is attributed. The game identifies players by garden name as well as by the player’s first name and name of the garden helper. Plants generally take one to two weeks to grow and produce fruit, although higher level plants can take as long as 30 days or more to complete the cycle. The goal is to spot creatures and gain diamonds as these in combination with plants grown are what provide levels and achievements.

The mechanic that gets players coming back is a social one that extends beyond Facebook friends available in-game. Players have to spot creatures in their own gardens as well as other gardens in order to fill the creature spotted page, as well as move forward in certain thematic plant collections. Furthermore, spotting creatures in other gardens rewards the garden owners with the same amount of diamonds that you the spotter receives, encouraging garden owners to attract people to their own gardens. Fairyland gardeners can also set up mini-games in their gardens for visitors to play. The only benefit from having your Facebook friends play the game is that these players can gift each other seasonal seeds.

There are two main types of currency in the game, gold and diamonds. Gold is used every time a player waters a plant and also to purchase seeds, flower pots, food and resources for mini-games. Diamonds are used to shorten plant growing time and to purchase special flower pots and garden games. Five gold can be collected every three hours and other small amounts can be earned through other means, including finding them in friends’ gardens. Stardust is a third and rarely used type of currency in the game that comes in small amounts whenever a player purchases gold. Stardust can be used to purchase super food that attracts twice as many creatures, and special decorations for the garden that accompany in-game actions. For example, you can purchase flying pigs that appear in the background whenever you have plants in your garden out to attract the piglet.