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Cascadian Farm Becomes First Branded Crop in FarmVille

Organic brand Cascadian Farm is becoming the first branded organic crop to be offered in Zynga's popular online game FarmVille. Beginning July 19 through July 26, Cascadian Farm will give FarmVille players such benefits as coupon offers, organic farming and green living tips and - per the game's philosophy - the opportunity to enhance their farm. The campaign was developed with the support of Sterling-Rice Group. The brand has recreated the real Cascadian Farm - located in the Upper Skagit Valley of Washington's North Cascade Mountains - virtually, with the online fruits and vegetables planted in similar fashion. There's also an avatar farmer called "Farmer Joe Cascadian," who’ll serve as the "virtual" tender to the brand’s own FarmVille farm. Users can request to be his neighbor by friend-ing him online on his Facebook page.

A Comeback?

Given the huge popularity of social gaming, it is a coup for a brand to be associated with it - especially one as successful as FarmVille. However, that particular game has seen a number - as high tens of millions - of people drop out in the last few months. Concerns have been growing that social gaming may well be a fad that is peaking. "Economic factors could affect the future of social gaming, and consumer behavior remains an unknown," says Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report, "Social Gaming: Virtual Crops Yield Real Profits." (via eMarketer).

"Playing addictive games that simulate farms, restaurants or mob families could be a long-term business proposition, but it could also be the ultimate fad," he said. "If interest in these types of activities evaporates as quickly as it materialized, the social gaming industry could experience the same plunge as happened with virtual worlds."

Boost from Google

But Verna made his projections before rumors of $100 million to $200 million investment by Google in Zynga became public. Reported by TechCrunch last week, the investment is said to be an initiative by Google to build out its own social games offering.

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