The most popular games on Facebook are not what most people would expect. No, not first person shooters like Call of Duty or Left 4 Dead, nor RPGs (role-playing games) like the Final Fantasy series or Skyrim.

The Answer? Farm Games.

These games offer an experience that is far simpler and more family-friendly than what other “traditional” online games can offer. You might have already been on the craze yourself: managing your own digital farm, going on a harvesting frenzy, and making sure your crops don’t die on you while you weren’t looking.

The Facebook gaming scene might not be as big as it was a few years ago, but it is to be noted that farming games are still enjoying a relatively robust player base and high popularity, still providing hours of fun to their dedicated fans.

The History of Farm Games

To understand the secret behind farming games’ immense popularity, it’s important to know their history first.

While Facebook had brought these games to the mainstream, the history of farm-focused video games go way back. The first farm simulation video game that enjoyed a relatively high level of success was SimFarm, a game from the independent video game label Maxis (of The Sims and SimCity fame). It presented much of the gameplay mechanics for the farming genre (maturity cycles for crops, the need for upgraded equipment, etcetera) that other succeeding games would build up on.

But SimFarm is not what inspired the rest of the farm games that sprouted up in the first decade of the 21st century. That honor would go to the Japanese-made Harvet Moon, a video game series created by Yasuhiro Wada of Victor Interactive Software.

Now, if you’ve owned a popular games console in the 90s- SNES, Gameboy, PlayStation- then you might have already played or heard about Harvest Moon. It is the game that made farming management look cute, and formed the basis for many Facebook-hosted farm games online.

Why in the World Do People Enjoy Farm Game So Much?

Harvest Moon was already popular by itself, but the farming genre only took off with the introduction of farm games online on large social networks like Facebook.

1. It made gaming social

With Harvest Moon or SimFarm, you’re only playing by yourself. Online farming games like Family Farm, on the other hand, is a social game. You would need the cooperation of your Facebook friends to help you get livestock, rare crops, and other items that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten by playing alone. These social farm games made gaming a non-exclusive hobby, one that everyone in society (and not only the geeks and hardcore gamers) can enjoy and take part in.

2. It gives players complete control of the game’s “story”

With traditional games, you’re usually following a linear narrative progression. You go through this level, buy equipment upgrades, watch some cutscenes, and defeat the boss. But with open-ended farm games online, there is no end. You can play for an unlimited amount of time, and there will always be something more to do. Is your sole goal to make your farm look pretty? Of course, you’re allowed to do that. Do you just want to collect rare items? Then, go for it. Are you a traditionalist and just want to plant some digital crops as a form of relaxation? Well, be our guest. There are no high scores, no goals that you are forced to complete just to advance through the game. You can be as competitive or as casual as you want.

3. Online farm games are free

Traditional video games dictate that you must buy a copy of the game itself before you can play it. But with Facebook farming games, there’s no sort of financial requirement that would stop anyone from playing them. For example, all that you need to get started on playing Family Farm is a Facebook account. You just log on and play away! There are games that follow the “freemium” business model though, wherein players get most of the game’s features for free, but they can pay with real money if you want a little bit of extra help.

So, what are you waiting for? Your Family Farm friends are waiting for you. Plant beautiful crops, take care of cute animals, and many more with just a click of a button!