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Summary:

According to Zynga, the creator of Farmville and other popular Flash-based interactive games on Facebook, over the past two days alone, players with Farmville accounts have sent close to half a billion virtual Valentine’s Day gifts to each other.

If you had any doubts as to the kind of influence wielded by Farmville, the animated Flash game that has become popular on Facebook, here’s a statistic that should erase them: In just two days since the launch of a new valentine gift feature on Monday, Farmville users have sent about half a billion virtual presents to other users — and it isn’t even Valentine’s Day yet. According to Zynga, the creator of Farmville, the game has more than 72 million registered users.

All Facebook reported early Wednesday that Farmville users, who plant crops and raise animals on their virtual plots of land, had sent 220 million virtual gifts to each other in 18 hours (Valentine gifts are free, although other things within Farmville can cost money). A check with a press spokesman from Zynga found that in the 48 hours since the launch at 6 a.m. PT Monday morning, more than 475 million had been sent. “We sent about 255 million yesterday and about 220 million the day before, for a total of about 475 million,” Lisa Chan said in an email.

Even though the valentines themselves didn’t cost money, the size and power of these kinds of virtual economies (Farmville players helped to raise $1 million for Haitian relief efforts) have led many to wonder what they can tell us about online spending in other ways. Journalist Chris O’Brien, for example, wrote a post recently at the PBS Media Shift blog asking “What Can Virtual Goods Teach Us About Paying For News?” and noting that virtual goods are expected to be a $1.6 billion market this year.

So what can Farmville teach us about the digital economy? If nothing else, it shows that making it easy for people to give each other presents can get you to some rather large numbers in a hurry.

Related content from GigaOM pro (sub req’d):

How the Next Zynga Could Reinvent Social Gaming

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  1. I’m glad I turned the Farmville updates off on my Facebook.

  2. slickr.info » Farmville Users Send 500M Valentines in 48 Hours Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    [...] If you had any doubts as to the kind of influence wielded by Farmville, the animated Flash game that… [...]

  3. Deals Heat Up in Facebook Gaming Space – GigaOM Thursday, February 11, 2010

    [...] Farmville Users Send 500M Valentines in 48 Hours See All Articles » Deals Heat Up in Facebook Gaming Space [...]

  4. Be My (virtual) Valentine « Social Game News Friday, February 12, 2010

    [...] GigaOm “So what can Farmville teach us about the digital economy? If nothing else, it shows that making it easy for people to give each other presents can get you to some rather large numbers in a hurry.” [...]

  5. Vincent Reginalds Friday, February 12, 2010

    Keep Haiti in your hearts on Valentines Day! Instead of a traditional card, I’ve posted a photo of my better half on the Haiti: Wall against Hunger – at http://wall.wfp.org

  6. Tech Tidbits: Google Buzz, TV on iPads, Vudu Boxes, Veoh, Digg Muppets Friday, February 12, 2010

    [...] Virtual Valentines? Facebook’s FarmVille community is all about love these days. They sent 500 million virtual Valentines to each other in only 48 hours. That’s a lot of love! [GigaOm] [...]

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