FarmVillain nets 500,000 players in first month on Facebook

14 May 2010

A Facebook game with an irreverent take on FarmVille jointly developed by Dylan Collins’ JOLT Online and new Irish gaming company Silly Goose has attracted 500,000 users within its first month on the social-networking site.

According to its creators, the Villain series of Facebook apps and games from the JOLT and Silly Goose tie-up are aimed to distract and amuse people from the real world of trillion-Euro sovereign bail-outs.

FarmVillain, an irreverent take on Zynga’s FarmVille, has emerged as one of Facebook’s fastest-growing apps, with more than half a million people playing.

Future Human

Described by sources close to JOLT as a ‘light-hearted’ parody, the Villain game allows its players to launch terrorist attacks on rivals’ farms, go duck hunting and go cow tipping.

It is all part of JOLT’s vision of cross-browser gaming opportunities and according to the source, JOLT and its new parent company Gamestop see Facebook as a major market opportunity. Gamestop, the world’s largest games retailer, bought JOLT last year for an undisclosed sum.

Collins, the entrepreneur who three years ago, at the age of 26, sold his Dublin-based technology company, DemonWare, to the world’s biggest computer-game firm, Activision, for $15m, has built up JOLT Online to be one of the most pioneering free-to-play browser games firms on the planet.

As well as JOLT, Collins is understood to be an angel investor in a number of small Irish start-ups as well as a mentor to others.

Imitation concerns

I asked the source if JOLT or Silly Goose had any qualms imitating FarmVille. “FarmVille actually copied a game called FarmTown, which was a copy of a Chinese game called HappyFarm, so you know, from a precedent point of view it’s OK.”

According to the source, JOLT is focusing on Facebook, iPhone and iPad games and will have up to six new game titles in the marketplace by the end of summer.

“The Gamestop acquisition of JOLT was strategic. Gamestop has over half a billion customers walking in buying games and it wanted to leverage the rise in social gaming to leverage that customer base and give them free games while not cannibalising console and PC games.

“The key is to migrate that audience to online gaming as part of the gaming industry’s biggest transitions.”

Since the Gamestop acquisition, JOLT has grown its staff numbers to 50 people and the company is continuing to hire, having taken on more general duties for the Gamestop family as it merges into online gaming.

It is understood that the company is also close to launching its Playboy Manager title in the coming months.

“It is amazing. The FarmVillain experience is an example of just how fast you can grow games on Facebook. It also shows you the promise of Irish games developers like Silly Goose,” the source said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Entrepreneur Dylan Collins (below)

Dylan Collins

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years