Social Games Get Affectionate with Valentine’s Day

It’s that time again. No, no, not Valentine’s Day… well, sort of. It’s another holiday, so time to see what social gaming companies are doing for occasion. In the past, we have covered some themed virtual goods offered by developers such as Playfish and Zynga — here’s what they’re doing, plus many others.

Having recently made use of the Super Bowl to sell some digital items, Zynga has gone all out for Valentine’s with significant amounts of items found in almost all of their titles.

To name just a few, the top apps of FarmVille, FishVille, PetVille, Café World, and even Mafia Wars (you can hire a hit squad of cupids – don’t ask) offer a myriad of loving items for its players. For the #1 Facebook app, FarmVille, Valentine’s goods are limited and consist of a decent mix of items costing virtual currency (versus in-game currency), with significant functionality included. The best example would be an “Unwither Ring” which would protect your crops from ever dying. Ever. Evidently, diamonds aren’t the only things that are forever.

The other Zynga apps were all fairly standard, as each of the mentioned titles offered goods that merely went with the holiday them. However, two elements worth noting came from Café World and PetVille respectively. The simpler one is a Valentine’s mystery box for the cost of 10 Café Cash (Café World’s virtual currency) that contains random, discounted Valentine’s items. More interesting, however, came with a social emphasis in PetVille.

If anyone remembers getting valentines in grade school all those years ago, this might seem familiar. PetVille actually has a sort of contest called “How Loveable Are You?” In a nutshell, the contest emphasizes gifting as players increase a “Love-O-Meter” from “Cold Fish” to “Ultimate Valentine” by receiving Valentine gifts such as smooches, candy hearts, and live roses in game. Come February 14th, players will win a “Deluxe Mystery Prize” based on their meter.

Playfish is also incorporating virtual goods into some of its applications as well, including Restaurant City, Country Story, and Pet Society. For the most part, these are merely virtual goods meant for decorative purposes, and most items only cost in-game currency. In fact, the only notable items that cost the buyable virtual currency are the stoves and refrigerators from Restaurant City that increase cooking and drink serving speed by 8%.

Another interesting use comes from Country Story where players can find and send each other hearts in a promotion called “Spread the Love.” For each heart they gift, they get one in return, and it is actually used as a temporary currency to buy valentine’s items instead of using in-game coins or the virtual currency, Playfish Cash. As an example, a porcupine cupid costs 500 coins or seven hearts. Furthermore, players are also able to acquire a limited edition Valentine’s tree that requires limited edition heart spirits (that can randomly drop from trees until the 24th) and other random tree spirits, that are not limited, to buy (all spirits are purchasable through virtual currency).

So who else is feeling the love this month? Well, we can’t cover everyone, but a few others that we came across also comes from CrowdStar, RockYou!, Tall Tree Games, and even a whole other network, hi5.

In the case of the games, it is mostly just themed items, but both Happy Aquarium and Fish World offer very amusing holiday fish most players will get a kick out of (i.e. kissing fish). However, most of the CrowdStar fish cost virtual currency, while Tall Tree’s fish mostly only cost in-game coins. Nonetheless, Happy Aquarium does have an amusing extra, as its Valentine’s fish can randomly appear, asking the player to find it a valentine via publishing it to your feed.