This little farmer may lose his neighbors as social network games such as FarmVille lose players.
updated 5/11/2010 4:39:11 PM ET 2010-05-11T20:39:11

It looks like some people haven’t been watering their crops.

FarmVille creator Zynga’s monthly active Facebook users have sharply declined. Two weeks ago, the company  behind the hugely popular “Mafia Wars,” “Treasure Isle,” and of course, social gaming juggernaut “FarmVille, lost 3.1 million active users. In the last week, 4.2 million more active players fell by the wayside, according to SecondShares. The industry monitor reports that Zynga currently has 244 million active users.

These rapid declines may be due to the fact that Facebook recently changed how members receive notifications and gift requests. As of March 1, Facebook no longer delivers application notifications. These seemingly-constant and often cluttering alerts on Facebook served as free advertising for “FarmVille” and other social network games, regularly reminding users to play.

Things may get worse for Zynga as other video game companies enter the Facebook ring. EA, the company behind “Battlefield: Bad Company 2,” spent $300 million for Zynga competitor Playfish last year, showing a significant investment in the future of social gaming. EA's first game, “FIFA Superstars,” is reportedly coming to Facebook soon.

Zynga's  success grabbed the attention of a lot of heavy hitters in the game industry, as well as several smaller companies. With this new flood of games, we’ll have to see if the “FarmVille” creator can keep its head above water.

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