Farmville has surfaced in the news lately as the recipient of £900 given by a 12-year old British teenager and partly financed by his mother's credit card. The influence of the real-time farm simulation game can no longer be ignored.
The game which has been developed by Zynga is quickly emerging as the biggest online gaming environment in the world with an estimated 83 million active users and over 23 million fans globally.
Still, it is quite surprising that Farmville has attracted so little attention lately even if by the latest estimates is already worth around $5 billion. Expect more children and teenagers to use their parents credit cards to finance their Farmville addiction and more reports to emerge over the next year.
The Farmville imbroglio reminds us of the lucrative paid-for ringtone rage that has swamped Britain for the last few years and which has caused aggravation to thousands of families.
They found out that phone bills unexpectedly went up after they were subscribed to ringtones services and charged small weekly fees. The issue though with Farmville is that there's no con involved (e.g. free one week trial) and the teenager knew exactly what was coming his way.
As one commentator puts it, leaving a 12 year old on Facebook unsupervised with a credit card is just plaint stupid while another added that credit card systems are automated and if the information is correct, the charge will be applied.
Obviously there's the other problem associated with the fact that the boy shouldn't have been on Facebook in the first place. The social networking website clearly states that the minimum age of membership is 13.
This means that around 1.25 percent of the world population (one in every 80 human beings) are part of the Farmville family, or, put it otherwise, 20 percent of Facebook users. This brings up another question. Is Farmville becoming too big for its own good.