Like most virtual world-type games, the value of Farmtown money isn't based on supply and demand. The supply of both money and goods is, of course, limitless, so the prices are arbitrary. The demand has no impact on price, so the goal is to maximize demand (i.e. players) as much as possible by increasing the size of the player-base. Attracting more players is the baseline goal of all games, and Farmtown uses all of the Facebook viral tricks to achieve that goal. In addition, they use a novel approach to employment economics, which, while simple, is new to me.
If you are a Farmtown farmer, these are your costs to grow crops:
- Buy seeds
- Harvest and sell immediately OR
- Harvest and store, selling at the Market for +10% price*
Unlike in the real world, instead of the farmer giving the workers a cut of the farms income, the farmer gets paid MORE when using a worker and the worker gets paid by the game, NOT by the farmer. That means the farmer's choices are:
- Harvest and sell immediately for the least money OR
- Harvest and store, selling at the Market for +10% price OR
- Hire somebody else to harvest, selling at the Market for +20% price, plus the worker gets 20% value of the harvest. Note: Harvesting becomes a bit of a chore, so you're saving time and effort as well as making more $
The game simply doles out more money for the cooperative behavior they choose to encourage. Unlike the real world, there's an infinite supply of cash, so this works with no side effects. I've always thought of virtual economies as trying to replicate supply and demand of scarcity based real-world economies, but Farm Town has proved that there are other options, depending on the goals of your game.
* note: I'm totally estimating the % benefits, but the gist remains valid.