Fishville Economics: Points, Experience & Levels

My Zynga addiction clearly knows no bounds.  Last week, Zynga launched a new game called Fishville, and clearly at this point I have no ability to resist any new Zynga game.

Screen shot 2009-11-12 at 12.57.13 AMFishville has a deceptively simple frame:  you have a fish tank, and you buy fish eggs for it.  The fish hatch, you feed them, and then when they are fully grown, you sell them for profit.

What I’ve found most interesting about the game is the new dimensions they are exploring in the economics of the game.  Fishville adds a couple distinguishing twists versus Farmville or Café World:

  1. Multiple Tanks. How many people wish they had more than one farm in Farmville?  In Fishville, Zynga has two types of expansion – the ability to put more fish in a single tank and the ability to buy new tanks.  This may not seem relevant from a structural standpoint – after all whether you add 20 fish to one tank or 10 to 2 tanks shouldn’t matter – but it should create a new dynamic around buying virtual goods to decorate different tanks.
  2. Harvest Levels. This is the real twist to the economics.  Fish grow up in stages, up to four levels.  The revenue in coins and the experience you get goes up linearly with each level.  So if you have a 4 hour fish, you can harvest them at 4 hours at Level 1, or 16 hours at Level 4.  You still have to feed them or they die (similar to withering crops in Farmville), but you don’t need to “replant”.

The Harvest Levels have the most impact on the game economics.  In financial terms, each fish now has a fixed cost and a variable cost, as well as a fixed experience pay-off and variable experience pay-off.

For example, let’s take the Mini Dart Goby, the first fish.

The Goby costs 7 coins for an egg.  That’s a fixed cost.  If you grow it to Level 1, you’ll get 18 coins, for a profit of 11 coins.  Easy, right?  Hold on.  If you wait until Level 4, you’ll get 72 coins over that same 7 coin cost, for a profit of 65 coins.

The fixed cost means that your “profitability” or “profit / minute” goes up the longer you wait to harvest.

Seems like a no-brainer to wait until Level 4?  Not so fast.

With Experience Points, the math works in reverse.

The Mini Dart Goby gives you 2 XP for dropping the egg.  At Level 1, you’ll get 8 XP, for a total of 10 XP.  But if you wait until Level 4, you’ll get 32 XP, for a total of 34 XP of the time period.  In this case, your “XP / Minute” goes down the longer you wait to harvest.

It gets even harder.

You can harvest a fish in-between levels… but you don’t get any credit for the time between levels.  So if you are half-way between levels, your “profit / minute” and “experience / minute” will be terrible.  In fact, the math says you need to harvest at level boundaries pretty closely.  (I think in a future blog post, I’ll graph this.)

For now, here are some tables I’ve made for the fish I have data on.  Unfortunately, this game is so new, I can’t find any guides online with data for all fish.  Special thanks to Erin Hoffmann, who serves as both data provider and my toughest competitor in Fishville.

The most interesting aspect to these tables is that while the profitability / minute rises for each level, Zynga has kept the fixed costs proportional enough that the ranking of the fish does not change significantly between 1 level or 4 levels.

Here is the profitability of different fish at Level 1:

Fish Profit / One Level Minutes / One Level Profit / Minute
Sardine 7.00 3.00 2.33
Mini Dart Goby 11.00 5.00 2.20
Red Spot Cardinal 23.00 15.00 1.53
Swissguard Basslet 17.00 60.00 0.28
Shy Hamlet 54.00 240.00 0.23
Percula Clownfish 81.00 480.00 0.17
Royal Dottyback 99.00 960.00 0.10
Hawaiian Hogfish 72.00 720.00 0.10
Scooter Blenny 133.00 1440.00 0.09

Here is the profitability of different fish at Level 4:

Fish Profit / Four Levels Minutes / Four Levels Profit / Minute
Sardine 43.00 12.00 3.58
Mini Dart Goby 65.00 20.00 3.25
Red Spot Cardinal 137.00 60.00 2.28
Swissguard Basslet 98.00 240.00 0.41
Shy Hamlet 321.00 960.00 0.33
Percula Clownfish 468.00 1920.00 0.24
Hawaiian Hogfish 432.00 2880.00 0.15
Royal Dottyback 567.00 3840.00 0.15
Scooter Blenny 796.00 5760.00 0.14

Here is the experience productivity of different fish at Level 1:

Fish XP / One Level Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
Mini Dart Goby 8.00 5.00 1.60
Sardine 4.00 3.00 1.33
Red Spot Cardinal 16.00 15.00 1.07
Swissguard Basslet 20.00 60.00 0.33
Shy Hamlet 75.00 240.00 0.31
Percula Clownfish 135.00 480.00 0.28
Hawaiian Hogfish 170.00 720.00 0.24
Royal Dottyback 220.00 960.00 0.23
Scooter Blenny 290.00 1440.00 0.20

Here is the experience productivity of different fish at Level 4:

Fish XP / Four Levels Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
Mini Dart Goby 26.00 20.00 1.30
Sardine 13.00 12.00 1.08
Red Spot Cardinal 52.00 60.00 0.87
Swissguard Basslet 68.00 240.00 0.28
Shy Hamlet 255.00 960.00 0.27
Percula Clownfish 459.00 1920.00 0.24
Hawaiian Hogfish 629.00 2880.00 0.22
Royal Dottyback 814.00 3840.00 0.21
Scooter Blenny 1073.00 5760.00 0.19

If you’d like to help, I’m missing data for the following fish:

  • Blue Damsel
  • Inland Silverside
  • Pajama Cardinal
  • Longnose Hawkfish
  • Annularis Angelfish
  • Blue Spot Grouper
  • Blue Hippo Tang
  • Bartlett Anthias

For each, please leave a comment with:

  • XP / Egg
  • Revenue / Level
  • XP / Level
  • Minutes / Level

Hope this helps the new Fishville players out there.  Enjoy.

Update (11/14/2009): New blog post coming tomorrow, with updated tables and new info.  Also, fixing the issue around the whole “Level 4/Adult” confusion, and publishing a Google Doc to help others benefit from the raw data.  I’m still finding that people are ignoring the XP from the dropping of the egg, and only focusing on the XP from harvesting, so I’ll update tables to make that more clear.

Updates:  I’ve now posted additional columns on Fishville: