This is the time of year, out of most any other time of the year one cares to name, that the world's attention should be focused on giving and helping others. It's an important point to a lot of people—charitable giving does seem to go up with the arrival of the Christmas season—and on Christmas Eve, there's one story making the rounds that sums up this development rather well: Zynga
's Holiday Lights expansion to Farmville.
While Zynga hasn't exactly had a good run of things in the recent past—Santa might well have put them all on the naughty list for a variety of points—this particular move should buy the company a wealth of good press. A big part of Farmville, as those who play it regularly know, is the customization of one's farm, complete with a variety of plantable items and other extras. In this case, as was to be expected, Zynga rolled out some new trees and decorations and such with a holiday theme. Some might roll their eyes at this, thinking it little more than a chance to cash in on the time of year, but Zynga took it up a notch. Zynga took its share of the money from said purchases—Facebook
gets 30 percent of whatever Zynga brings in on Farmville—and gave the balance to Feed America, which is one of the biggest hunger-based charities
in the United States.
Now that by itself is pretty good—it would be hard to fault it in any case—but the extent of just how well it worked only just gets better. In just 20 days—a day shy of three weeks—the Farmville gamers raised fully $1 million to help Feed America in its stated goal of bringing food to the hungry. Zynga, meanwhile, had only planned to raise just $500,000 for the project, but it only took about a week to hit that goal. Zynga decided to let it ride, and sure enough, under two weeks later, the project hit the million dollar mark.
That million dollars, in turn, will bring in fully nine million meals for charity, and that...that is a lot of food. This isn't the end of the story, either, as FarmVille so far has raised better than $7 million for charity over its operating period, and Zynga itself has raised $17 million through its various properties. That's a lot of cash raised for charity, and shows that FarmVille is still carrying on in grand style.
This isn't even unique to FarmVille, though it isn't exactly old hat to combine a holiday event with a charitable donation run. Still, it's good to see this kind of thing come around, and even better should we see more of it next year. For those who are concerned about public relations, it's the kind of thing that comes right in time. Let's face it, what gaming company isn't concerned about public relations, these days what with all those Congress folk out there who want to “do something” in the face of a school shooting? Establishing gaming—and gamers—as a major, visible force for good in society is the kind of thing that will take the teeth out of unpleasant public perception. Things like the Child's Play charity and others like it certainly help, and the more gamers can do with charity, the better off everyone is.
Clearly, Zynga has done well with this one, and hopefully will be able to continue to do well—not to mention do good—with its charitable efforts for some time to come. Gamers as a charitable arm makes a lot of sense, and hopefully, this is one development that can carry on.