Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

(Lil) Green Patch

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(lil) Green Patch was a Facebook application developed by Ashish Dixit and David King that simulated a small garden on a Facebook user's profile. By tending their and their friends' gardens, the Facebook users were able to raise money for Nature Conservancy to save the rain forest. In September 2008 it was rated as the number one application on Facebook ahead of Texas HoldEm Poker. In April 2009 it had slid to a sixth ranking.

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(lil) Green Patch became unavailable to users on June 10, 2010, following a decision by new owners Playdom to discontinue this game.

Popularity and area of rain forest saved

In the first quarter of 2008 (lil) Green Patch users raised over $15,000 in donations which was enough to save more than 13,600,000 square feet (1.26 km2) of rainforest. The application was then among the 15 most popular Facebook applications with 350,000 active users. In June, 2008 it was one of the top ten most installed applications with more than 5,217,180 installations and 521,718 active users a day. By October 2008, the app had raised $91,000 for the Nature Conservancy., and by December 2008 the number of users was reported at 6.3 million and the application was ranked as one of the five most popular Facebook applications. The area of Costa Rican rain forest that had been saved at that time was up to 70 million square feet.

In its final accounting, Causes.com, the independent charity clearinghouse for Facebook apps that processed its donations. reported that (Lil) Green Patch had generated $210,261 in contributions for the Nature Conservancy. As of December 2010, it remained the all-time top recruiter for this charity with nearly 1200 users, more than double the next largest contributor.

Growing Controversy and Blog Comment Speculations

Such success did not go unnoticed, leading a leading venture funded gaming company, Playdom, to acquire the independent Green Patch team in November 2009.

But its notoriety also drew detractors.

While Green Patch benefitted from the huge increase in Facebook members going on concurrently, many of these new Facebook users were unfamiliar with independent organizations such as Causes.com used to provide accountability for charitable contributions, but hyper aware of similar scams common elsewhere on the web. As a result, the accuracy of Green Patch's charity donation were widely questioned in blog comments. Although these speculations were shown to be unfounded, their frequent repetition may have unfairly tarnished the game's reputation.

Another source of controversy swirled about the amount of the donations relative to the size of the user population. Despite an average donation per contribution ratio exceeding $175 per contributor, some detractors disparaged the game by claiming total donations amounted to just pennies per user.

Demise of Green Patch and Diaspora of Team

Rumors, speculation and controversy also surround the surprise cancellation of the still popular (Lil) Green Patch just 6 months after Playdom acquired the Green Patch team and the month immediately prior to the announcement of Playdom's acquisition by Disney. Playdom also announced they were canceling all other games from the GreenPatch except (Lil) Farm Life.

Also during the time between the rapid rise of (Lil) Green Patch and its subsequent acquisition and eventual cancellation, competitor Zynga initiated trade secrets lawsuits against Green Patch, Playdom and 22 other rivals. These lawsuits were settled subsequent to Disney's acquisition of Playdom. The timing of events in the lawsuit with events affecting the acquisition and cancellation added to the previous speculation that Playdom senior management sacrificed (Lil) Green Patch and the studio's other games in hopes of settling the legal dispute prior to the Disney acquisition.

Despite a user base of over 350,000 active users, Playdom announced it was shutting down (Lil) Green Patch and on June 10, 2010 the game was permanently discontinued. A user protest to get Playdom to resume the game was unsuccessful. In July 2010, Disney in turn completed its acquisition of Playdom. Disney restructured its games studios into a new Disney Interactive Media group, adding Playdom, while also shuttering several other older game studios.

In November 2010 Disney settled the Playdom and Green Patch suits with Zynga.

Within a year of cancellation of the game nearly all of the original Green Patch employees at the time of acquisition had left Playdom, including GreenPatch Inc. founders David King and Ashish Dixit, and (Lil) Green Patch Art Director and Game Designer, Tig Sylvan.

Inspiration for a New Genre

(Lil) Green Patch has been described as the "granddaddy of green Facebook apps" and its game play and art style have inspired many other similar applications.

References

(Lil) Green Patch Wikipedia