FarmVille is a flash-based farm simulation by Zynga. If you've been on MySpace or Facebook, you've seen the bombardment of ads, as well as the annoying friend entries begging you to play (or to announce their new achievement, followed by a hint you should play too).

Unfortunately, Zynga's CEO was taped while bragging about all the wonderful things his company did to generate income. For example, noting kids don't typically have credit cards, some of their ads ask for your cell phone. When the unsuspecting kid enters their phone for a bit of in-game bling, the phone picks up a subscription to some useless service. Since most folks just pay their phone bill, they don't notice the charges. Those that do discover some wireless providers will not allow you to get rid of subscriptions -- you have to go through the service. Since you don't know where they are, they keep billing you. Class acts, these folks.

The game itself is apparently fun to play. There are hordes playing the game, and they're probably unaware of the background of the company.

Everything revolves around the Market. Necessary items can be purchased using the in-game currency (called coins or cash). Available items include seeds, trees, animals, buildings, decorations, vehicles, and additional acreage. Coins can be earned when you sell your mature crops, while cash is generated based at a rate of one dollar per experience level. As mentioned above, players can choose to earn coins or cash by completing an offer from an advertiser.

Zynga also runs several other flash-based games with similar ethics in their milking of their customers. Mafia Wars, for example, is always embedded in my activity stream from folks who play. I usually end up getting rid of their accounts because of the unwanted game spam.

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