When we last left the folks over at Ngmoco, they were crafting new worlds with the god-sim GodFinger on the iPad and iPhone. But however well that game may be doing, it’s We Rule, another popular iDevice title Ngmoco released this year, that the company has chosen to become a franchise with the release of a new iPhone title, We Farm.
Ngmoco has made a habit of testing its games in Canada, which is the only place We Farm is available for now — although the company promises that it will be available on an international level soon. Regardless, the time until then is easily killed, as We Farm feels quite similar to We Rule. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but aside from the premise and visual content, not a lot feels terribly different.
Basically, rather than a kingdom, players are set to build up as large and as nice a farm as possible by buying and placing gardens of various crops, which are then sold to earn income. With more advanced levels, more crops become available, ranging in growth time from about a minute to days. Like most farming games, the crops rot if the user doesn’t return to harvest them. Thankfully, there is an option for push notifications when they are ready, for those that are more forgetful.
An important to the typical crop mechanic is animals. Players can purchase various animal enclosures, for example a chicken coop. From here, they can buy different animals that will mature over time and can be petted for added experience. What is most interesting, however, is that once mature, players can send them off to the “fair,” where they can win awards. These awards don’t appear to do much besides slightly alter the animal’s building with a ribbon, but that visual reward is often enough.
Like We Rule, We Farm is also a visually appealing game. More realistic than the more common cartoony games in the genre, We Farm has any number of decorations that can be scattered about the virtual space, and comes with a convenient redesign function that lets you pick up and move everything with a touch and drag, rather than go through a sea of menus.
When starting out, players don’t have a tremendous amount of real estate to work with. Luckily, expansion is fairly natural, as players earn gold and upgrade the farm house at their virtual space’s center. As it is improved, it not only looks better, but expands the physical amount of space on the farm itself. The additional means of expansion is through adding friends as neighbors.
This, obviously, is one of the major social mechanics, as players can invite friends that play via Facebook, Twitter, or the Plus+ network. Once invited, their farms display on an overworld map, and can be visited to help out and earn rewards. Unfortunately, as the game is only available in Canada, and we’re using a special promo code… we are very lonely at the moment, and thus cannot provide greater detail on these elements.
What we can confirm, however, is that the game is part of Ngmoco’s Plus+ platform. Working as an enhancement to the game’s core, players can share various achievements as well as take part in the games competitive leaderboards.
As far as monetization goes, Ngmoco appears to be taking a similar route as it did with We Rule. Along with advertisements and offers that appear as “Free Gold” on the overworld map, the game appears to be monetizing most with a virtual item called Gro. Purchasable in quantities ranging from 20 to 800 ($2.99 to $89.99), it’s an item used to speed up crop growth, increase animal happiness so they can be petted again, or speed up animal maturation.
Overall, there is little to complain about We Farm other than the fact that it is not all that different from We Rule. That fact may not affect the game’s success; the different flavor may appeal to a slightly different demographic, and Zynga and others proved the tactic can work in its early years, while cloning Mafia Wars with a sea of virtually identical role-playing games on Facebook. In that light, We Farm can also serve as an experiment for Ngmoco as to whether this method will work for it, both with We Farm and another previously-announced spinoff that’s yet to be released, We City.