During a public Neuroethics Society meeting at the University of California at San Diego, Braid developer Jonathon Blow called Zynga's popular Facebook franchise Farmville "kind of malicious," and said that the social game is just "reward structure layered on reward structure" with no game at all. Blow also took aim at PopCap's popular game Plants vs. Zombies 2.
"If you look at a game like Farmville, there's actually no game there. It's just reward structure layered on reward structure layered on reward structure with a hollow center," Blow said.
Blow went on to say that Zynga's only aim with Farmville is to encourage players to spend money for virtual items or to get their friends to play.
"All they're trying to do is get you to either give them money or pull friends into the game in order to potentially, eventually give them money," Blow said.
Blow also took a shot at Plants vs. Zombies 2, noting that the game's tutorial can't be completed until players are shown how to spend real-world money on virtual items. This is odd, he claims, because the entire game can be completed without paying for anything.
"This is a way that they're trying to profit from you. And they know that rather than just tell you how to do this; when they can make you perform an action that they want you to perform later, you've crossed a barrier, you've broken an initial resistance, and it's easier to get you to do stuff later," Blow said.
Blow is currently working on a new game called The Witness, set to launch as a timed-exclusive for the PlayStation 4 sometime in 2014.