Source: Sunflower Land

Sunflower Land is a blockchain-based farming-themed idle game that runs on timers. It bears a striking similarity to the classic Zynga game FarmVille, in which the player plants crops that take a certain amount of time to “ripen” depending on their type, and it encourages the player to check back regularly to harvest them. The game relies on a pixel art aesthetic that somewhat evokes the classic Nintendo series Harvest Moon (and more recently, the independent Stardew Valley), but in terms of mechanics bears a much closer resemblance to the Zynga game, as the player’s agency and interactions are essentially limited to planting crops and harvesting resources.

Sunflower Land is the sequel to an earlier prototype called Sunflower Farmers, which made headlines when an item duplication bug set off a frenzy of bot activity that not only brought the game down temporarily, but also congested the entire Polygon chain. After that incident, the developers took the project down for a few months to relaunch it as Sunflower Land.

Sunflower Land now describes itself as a “Play-and-Own” game, a telling change in terminology. Its predecessor Sunflower Farmers described itself as “Play-to-Earn”, a phrase originally coined by Axie Infinity; most such crypto games (including Axie) have since rebranded as “Play-and-Earn” ever since their business models proved unsustainable, and it seems “Play-and-Own” is a further bit of rhetorical evolution meant to align marketing speak more closely with a promise the developers are actually able to deliver.

Briefly stated, Sunflower Land has resurrected a small but promising project from a major technical disaster, and now boasts being “The #1 NFT game on Polygon” according to DappRadar. Deeper questions remain, however. What does the Play-to-Earn Play-and-Earn Play-to-Own space look like in the wake of the fall of Axie Infinity, the collapse of virtual real estate, and the broader crypto crash? Has Sunflower Land learned from its previous iteration how to build through a bear market? Or has it thrown out the baby with the bathwater?

Let’s find out.


Let’s start by understanding what you actually do in Sunflower Land.

The first step is to acquire a farm NFT, which essentially represents your account. Instead of taking the payment directly, the team asks that you make a $5 donation (via cryptocurrency) to a charity you select from a provided list. This is the same onboarding procedure that the original game had. The upfront cost is the first of many anti-botting countermeasures, and even though the developers don’t earn a profit on it, the paywall takes the game out of free-to-play territory.

Players can also just buy an existing farm NFT on the secondary market. OpenSea lists over 150,000 farms, with a floor price of about $4.90 for an active farm as of this writing. Early in the beta period the number of farms was capped at 100,000, but it now seems that anybody is able to mint a new farm. The fact that anyone can mint a new farm for a flat $5 puts a price ceiling on unimproved farms, and also eliminates the incentive to buy and hold starter farms as a speculative asset.

Currently over 15,000 farm NFTs have been permanently banned (presumably for botting), which amounts to over 10% of the current supply as of this writing. Further, a whopping 64,910 are currently “unverified,” bearing the warning message: “It is still being verified and not recommended to buy as it may be blacklisted.” These are newly minted farms that haven’t been approved for general play just yet. Ultimately less than half of the farm NFTs currently in existence count as “active.”

Once you’ve got a farm, you’re ready to hop right into the game. The game runs on a web browser at, and the in-game environment looks like this:

Source: Sunflower Land

This view will be somewhat familiar to players of the original game:

Source: Source: Sunflower Farmers

The main difference between the two games is that whereas the original was focused on a small area in a single screen, the new game has a much more expansive map with many new buildings and areas to unlock.

Although there is a character that represents the player, this is not a fully simulated game where you move around and explore in real time in the same way you might expect in Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. Instead, you play the game with a much more “god’s eye view” and click things in the manner traditional to web-based idle games.

The basic goal of the game is to accumulate SFL, the native token of the game. In order to do so, you go through a basic game loop of planting crops, harvesting them, selling them, and using the SFL you earn to buy more seeds, with which you will plant more crops. There is no significant narrative component to the game or substantial “endgame” phase beyond this (though we’ll talk about planned expansions in a bit).

Source: Sunflower Land

This basic gameplay loop is supplemented by an upgrade loop that progressively unlocks gates that give access to higher yield crops and other resource nodes, a mechanic that should be familiar to anyone who has played an idle game before. One of the chief things that players will need to do is to feed Goblin NPCs that are blocking access to fields by gathering enough resources to cook a specific meal for them. This will unlock new expansion areas over time.

Source: Sunflower Land

So far, what’s been described is essentially identical to any number of FarmVille clones. What makes Sunflower Land somewhat unique is that all of this activity is being performed on-chain; or most of it, at least. A key mechanic in Sunflower Land is “syncing.” When you play the game, your progress is saved on a centralized server, and you must periodically “sync” your progress to ensure that it is stored on the blockchain itself (Polygon, specifically).

But doesn’t this allow players to cheat by manipulating their off-chain state and submitting a fraudulent sync command? Perhaps not. Sunflower Land is a single player game, and all of the game’s activities can be reduced to simple time-gated transactions, which means it is quite feasible to formally verify all of the pending moves the player has queued up against the stated rules of the game.

This is a point of contrast with the original game, which did not rely on a centralized server to save progress temporarily. Instead, progress was stored only in the local browser state, and was then periodically synced to the blockchain. Changing this aspect of the design has almost certainly made the game easier to manage, but it represents a step away from the original game’s commitment to true decentralization. This hybrid approach should allow the developers to catch some unauthorized behavior, but they have little recourse for anything nefarious that makes its way to the blockchain other than to ban the offending NFTs and wallet addresses. Furthermore, even the most secure blockchain can’t protect against mistakes in authorized code, as the original game’s notorious item duplication bug — caused by a simple integer overflow — can attest to.

In any case, syncing to the blockchain is fairly simple. A player opens the menu and clicks “sync”:

Source: Sunflower Land

Syncing does incur a gas fee to process the transaction, which the whitepaper suggests to be in the range of about $0.10 to $0.13 USD worth of MATIC. For this reason players are encouraged to sync every few days or so rather than to constantly spam the button. For more on what syncing practically does for a player, we need to discuss Sunflower Land’s mix of blockchain-enabled and traditional features.

Humans & Goblins — Web2 & Web3

Sunflower Land divides its world between “Humans” and “Goblins” both as a cute theme and also as a way to separate “web2” features and “web3” features. Put simply, human NPCs and the human town represent features from traditional web games (“web2”), and goblins represent blockchain-based features (“web3”).

Here’s Sunflower Town, with a homestead, town hall, kitchen, shop, and smithy, where the player can buy, sell, and trade resources off-chain.

Source: Sunflower Land

And here’s the Goblin Village, with a bank, farmer, wishing well, tailor, and smithy:

Source: Sunflower Land

The chief difference is that any assets or progress you unlock in the human town is saved to the game server and available immediately, but assets you wish to unlock in the goblin village must be synced to the chain before they’ll be visible there. Furthermore, whenever you sync, the inventories of the Blacksmith and the Shop replenish back to full. These features are an inducement to make sure that players will periodically sync their progress to the blockchain rather than just relying on the game server for long periods of time.

This means that Sunflower Land has two mandatory costs to play — an upfront $5 donation to acquire a farm NFT, and ongoing gas fees every few days to sync your progress. As long as gas fees remain low, this doesn’t seem too unreasonable, but as Sunflower Land’s own predecessor dramatically demonstrated, gas fees aren’t just caused by congestion resulting from the game’s own traffic, but of the entire traffic of the chain it’s hosted on. This means that it’s possible in theory for Sunflower Land to experience relatively low traffic but still be plagued by high gas fees, just because demand for some other project is currently clogging up the Polygon blockchain.

“Open Source,” but Not Really

The original Sunflower Farmers stood out from the crowd because it actually fulfilled many of the promises that blockchain games casually make but so rarely deliver on. Unlike the majority of other blockchain games that rely on centralized trusted servers and closed-source code and assets, Sunflower Farmers was a robustly “on-chain” game where in-game transactions were validated by smart contracts, and the code was all open source under the MIT license.

Sunflower Land seems to have dialed some of that back in its latest revision. The game is still largely validated by smart contracts, but there’s a larger role for a central server, and the game’s codebase no longer qualifies as “open source.” The source code is available for viewing on Github, but the developers clearly state that no license for reuse is available, citing other people using the original game’s code “unethically” on “other Blockchains:”

In the project whitepaper they offer a more elaborate justification in their community vision section:

  • The game itself is open source and currently has 50+ active contributors. We believe any decentralized project, let alone a community-based one, should be transparent with the code users are interacting.
  • However, taking the open source approach brings multiple challenges:
  • 1. Makes it easier for botters to understand the code
  • 2. Makes is easier for scammers to make clones of the project
  • While this makes development tough, we are currently so proud of the open source community we have built and believe in the long term this will form the foundations of the developers building out the Sunflower MetaVerse.

To be absolutely clear, Sunflower Land is not “open source.”

Unlike vague terms like “metaverse” that have no widely agreed upon meaning, the term “open source” is a specific technical term of art with a very specific technical definition, as laid out by the Open Source Initiative. To qualify as “open source”, it is not enough to just make the source code available for viewing, it must also be available for redistribution, must allow for modifications and derived works, and comply with various other specific terms and conditions.

Sunflower Farmers, being released under the permissive MIT license, is a clear example of an open source game. The proper term for what Sunflower Land is doing, where the code is available on a “look, but don’t touch” basis, is “source available,” not “open source.”

This might seem like a minor pedantic point to some, but industry insiders take this sort of language seriously because of the specific legal implications. In any case, making the source available is certainly better than nothing and should be applauded, but it should not be confused with a formal commitment to licensing the game under a truly open source license. This is especially the case when there is a possibility for confusion given the fact that the game’s predecessor was genuinely open source.


Sunflower Land’s tokenomics are somewhat simpler than that of other crypto games. There is only one main currency token, SFL, which the player is constantly earning in-game by harvesting and selling crops and other items. That said, the tokens have been expanded from the original game, and both farms and tokens were migrated over from Sunflower Farmers.

There are two specific aspects to Sunflower Land’s model that stand out from typical crypto games: “The Halvening” and its notion of “Withdrawals.”

The Halvening

Simply put, the amount of SFL you can earn in-game decreases as the total amount of SFL ever minted increases. This means that early players will earn much greater rewards than later players. The intent seems to be to provide a counter to runaway token inflation.

The other half of the equation is burn mechanics — collectibles and NFTs must be purchased with SFL, and the price to purchase them (denominated in SFL) does not change with token supply. The intent is to make sure those items become harder to attain over time and to prop up demand for the token.

Based on the description in the paper, the Halvening seems to be a one-way ratchet that is linked to the total supply ever minted, even if the amount of circulating supply decreases due to burning.


Sunflower Land has a fairly distinct feature where all of the tokens and NFTs you’ve accumulated are tied directly to your farm NFT. In order to separate them into individually tradable tokens, you must “withdraw” them from the farm via the in-game bank.

Source: Sunflower Land

The goblin banker will keep up to 30% of the resources you withdrew and send them to the “Goblin Community Treasury,” though this fee decreases with the amount you withdraw. The purpose of this mechanic is to provide funds for the team, to reward people for holding on to assets long-term, fight against bots and click farmers, and generally provide stability to the economy.

For context, 10 SFL is worth 6.6 cents USD, and 5000 SFL is worth about $329.70, as of this writing.

Business Model

The game’s developer, Thought Farm ltd, makes money in three ways:

  1. Sync fees
  2. NFT royalties
  3. SFL Withdrawal tax

In short, it makes a small amount of money ($0.10 USD) whenever a player saves their game by syncing to the blockchain, which is in addition to the gas fees paid for the transaction. It also takes a cut of any NFT items sold in the secondary marketplace (30%), and it levies a tax on withdrawals of SFL.

To their credit, this business model aligns the team with the long-term growth of their userbase and ongoing activity in the game. Without an initial burst of funds from an investor or a large speculative presale of NFTs with no in-game functionality, there’s no large pile of funds they can scamper off with. If the game fails, they fail. It also monetizes the userbase directly rather than monetizing growth itself, the fatal flaw in Axie Infinity’s business model.


Let’s start by looking at how Sunflower Land is performing according to the metrics. The original Sunflower Farmers game was taken offline in early January 2022, and was relaunched in stages beginning on April 7 as Sunflower Land.

The game’s requirement for players to sync to the blockchain gives us a solid basis for establishing monthly active users, and a decent proxy for daily active users.

Source: Naavik and Dune
Source: Naavik and Dune

Monthly player counts have dropped by 56% in just over 3 months from a peak of 112,183 down to just 49,362 today. Daily active users have dropped by 83% over 4 months from a peak of 42,999 down to just 7,209 today. Given the large number of banned farm NFTs and the problems that the original game faced, some unknown number of the remaining users are likely to be bots, which means the real human population is likely somewhat lower.

What we can say is that in the short term, Sunflower Land is experiencing a pronounced decline from its launch and is holding on to fewer players over time. That said, many games experience a spike in player activity after launch before settling on a more stable baseline, so we should look at a few other metrics before reaching a firm conclusion.

Sunflower Standards for Success

One lens we are particularly fond of here at Naavik is to judge a project by its own stated goals. Sunflower Land and its predecessor have conveniently given us a detailed list. We’ll look at each game in turn.

Sunflower Farmers

In the original game’s whitepaper, which is no longer online but archived here, the team laid out the ambition of “becoming a well-known crypto game that is built from the ground-up by the community.” They listed three specific goals in pursuit of this:

  • Become the #1 Open-Source Play to Earn Game
  • Launch a Crowdsourced Crafting Mechanism
  • Stabilize [sic] the Token Price and Reward Long-term Farmers

They put forth a number of key metrics as the standard they wished to be judge by:

To track progress and validate our decisions, we will use a range of key metrics to reach by the end of the year.

20,000+ Daily Active Users

  • Why: We want to show real traction of the game so we can seek partners and potential VCs to take our game to the next level. Certain coin listing platforms (e.g. CoinGecko) also require a certain amount of holders and transactions per day.

10 different pixel artists have released their own farm NFT collection

  • Why: Once we incentivize other designers and developers to build on the Sunflower Farmers platform, the game ecosystem will grow at a rapid pace. The innovation won't be limited to the current development team.

$10,000 USD has been burnt in the QuickSwap liquidity pool

  • Why: Burn liquidity is great for the price of a token as it prevents a rug pull from happening. Once we achieve a stable pool, early adopters of the game will be able to cash in and make profit from their early farming efforts.

Well, they certainly blasted past their first goal.

The sudden increase in users was so steep that we need to zoom in more closely:

Sunflower Farmers passed its goal of 20,000 daily active users on December 31st, 2021. Just 5 days later it would peak at 351,286 daily active users. The vast majority of this activity was attributed to bots exploiting the game’s smart contracts, but some portion of that activity was likely actual users, and the game was able to attain the attention it was hoping for one way or another.

Next, did any pixel artists ever release their own farm NFT collections? Sort of. It never happened in Sunflower Farmers, but the successor game has been crowdsourcing pixel art for its standard features as well as its collectibles:

  • Most of the awesome art you see in the game has been designed by community members. We perform a range of open source art competitions which let the amazing pixel artists of our community take part in the design process.

Taking a quick glance, more than 10 artists have provided art that has made its way into the game. That said, the ability to launch one’s own NFT collections hasn’t been launched yet.

Finally, we’ll look at QuickSwap liquidity. According to Trading Strategy, $128K USD of liquidity is currently available in QuickSwap for the MATIC↔SFL token pair.

That gives us this scorecard for metrics:

20,000+ Daily Active Users

10 different pixel artists have released their own farm NFT collection.

$10,000 USD has been burnt in the QuickSwap liquidity pool

Two out of three ain’t bad, and they’ve made progress on the one they didn’t hit. The important question, however, is what does it all amount to? Let’s look back at their initial goals:

Become the #1 Open Source Play to Earn Game

Launch a Crowd Sourced Crafting Mechanism

Stabilize the token price and reward long term farmers

They may have succeeded in becoming the “#1 Play-to-Own” game on the Polygon blockchain, but they’ve already abandoned both the definition of Open Source and the label of “Play to Earn” (itself now widely considered a dead-end category).

They may yet succeed in launching a crowdsourced crafting mechanism, and have taken major steps to crowdsource individual contributions, but they have yet to launch the sort of self-driven automated contribution platform they initially described.

And unfortunately, they haven’t succeeded in stabilizing the token price. The original token, SFF, launched on January 3rd and immediately spiked to a high of $4.64 before declining precipitously. Ultimately, the original game had to be shuttered in the wake of bot activity and was formally shut down on January 7. The old token continues to exist, but its price has essentially gone to zero.

In the months that transpired, players were able to accrue off-chain currency in the beta version of the new Sunflower Land game, which was launched on Polygon on May 22nd, achieving an initial price of $0.30. The price now sits at an all-time low of $0.08, a decline of over 73% in a little less than 3 months:

So in terms of Sunflower Farmer’s initial ambitions, it met most of its own internal benchmarks for success, but so far has failed to meet any of its actual goals.

But what about Sunflower Land?

Sunflower Land

The spirit of the original game lives on, though the goals have changed somewhat, at least according to the Community Vision page of the whitepaper:

  • We are moving towards a decentralised model where the community owns the game through DAO mechanisms, but until then we are relying on a few traditional web technologies to help with voting, source code, art and other contributions.

They list a few high level principles:

  • Bootstrapped Project
  • Visible Source Code
  • Community Contributions
  • Giving back to the community

To briefly summarize what they mean here, they take issue with the way most crypto games are developed and want to hew closer to the actual promises of “web3.”

Rather than pre-mining a large supply of tokens or doing a big initial NFT sale, the team members “only make money while people are playing the game based on small fees and taxes.” Development occurs out in the open with a source-available (though not open source) code base, and they’ve taken pains to establish an active community that they source contributions from both in the form of art and code. Lastly, they seek to be good citizens and ambassadors of the web3 movement:

  • One of our underlying aims is to onboard more people into the Web3 space to help build out the future of a decentralized web. We provide support through code reviews, feedback and open source idea collaboration.
  • We don't believe guaranteeing rewards attracts the right people to the project to build a healthy and long term game. We take care of the community and those that contribute in passion for the project. Those that help the project over time will be pleasantly surprised.
  • At times this is done spontaneously through:
  • - NFT airdrops
  • - Early access to features
  • - Social media shoutouts
  • - In-game accreditation

So how are they doing so far?

Regarding bootstrapping, Thought Farm Pty Ltd, the company behind the game, has not announced any investor funding. Its tokenomics also lines up with its vision — no large pre-mined allocations and no large NFT sales in advance of gameplay.

Its source code is visible for the world to see, and development takes place out in the open. It also seems to have quite a lot of community contributions directly to the code base. The core team lists only 4 people, but Github lists 56 individuals as having made at least one commit, and 14 individuals have made at least 10 commits. Likewise, the limited-edition NFT power-up items in the game are credited to artists from the community. They also have indeed been “giving back” in the manner described above.

That gives us a score card that looks like this:

Bootstrapped Project

Visible Source Code

Community Contributions

Giving back to the community

That’s much better, but it’s important to underscore that the team has (perhaps wisely) set the bar much lower for themselves the second time around.

That said, the team lists another set of goals for themselves on their Roadmap:

  • The aim of Sunflower Land is to create the #1 Play to Own Crypto game. We want to tailor an accessible and friendly crypto experience where players can leave their mark on the MetaVerse and understand the true nature of crypto gaming - you own what you collect.
  • We are strong believers in the community and the power that gaming can have on the players. Value in Sunflower Land comes from the effort, customisation and personal experience a person pours into building their farming empire. When someone is attached to the farm and community, they are willing to burn more resources and less likely to let go of their creations.

They then list the following concrete goals:

  • Improve Web3 Literacy
  • Benchmark for transparency
  • Disprove the idea that someone has ‘come too late.’
  • Crowdsourced

To which we must also add:

  • Become the #1 Play to Own Crypto game

“Improve Web3 Literacy” and “Crowdsourced” are fairly common goals in the web3 space. They want to onboard more users into blockchain gaming and leverage the power and energy of the community to co-create with them. The other two goals set them at odds with what has come before and are worth calling out specifically.

On transparency:

  • Change the perspective of building a game and company in the Web3 space. Combat the toxicity and shady projects that haunt this space with friendliness and transparency around all aspects of the company.

On the ‘coming too late’ bit:

  • Gameplay should be engaging for new or long term players. Everyone has their own unique experience building out their MetaVerse and the game stays forever young.

Making their code source available, even without an open source license, is certainly a significant step towards transparency compared to the other blockchain game companies that route all game logic through a black box server. Further, the fundamental design of Sunflower Farmers, where all transactions in principle are verifiable by smart contract, pushes things further in this direction.

Improving web3 literacy essentially amounts to having a lot of users, and disproving that someone has “come too late” cashes out to having a long-lived successful game that is about more than the initial crypto game gold rush chasing a quick pump. Crowdsourcing has already arguably been achieved, at least in a limited sense.

As for becoming the “#1 Play to Own Game,” if we interpret “Play to Earn”, “Play and Earn”, and “Play to Own” as essentially synonymous, then we can see that Sunflower Land still has a ways to go to secure this title. Splinterlands currently holds the #1 spot, claiming 168,000 daily active wallets (DAW), Alien Worlds is #2 with 57,000, and Axie Infinity is ranked 5th, according to DappRadar. Sunflower Land sits at spot #12 with 10,160 DAW.

Become the #1 Play to Own Crypto game

Disprove the idea that someone has ‘come too late.’

Improve Web3 Literacy

Benchmark for transparency


So far, they’ve achieved the easier goals and have yet to achieve the hard goals. Their roadmap then lays out a plan of attack for where they intend to take the project in the future. They lay out three concrete stages of development:

Stage 1 - Open Beta Sandbox is an elaboration of the original Sunflower Farmers game where one can gather resources, craft items, plant seeds, harvest crops, raise animals, mine minerals, and unlock both skills and areas of the map. As of this writing, this phase is complete.

Stage 2 - Land Expansion is slated for October 2022 and will roll out the first set of major new gameplay features. They intend to have figured out their economic model and overcome “previous challenges with bots and multi accounts.”

Stage 3 - Decentralized Protocols is slated for 2023 and encompasses making good on the promises of fully decentralizing the game. This is when a DAO and a DEX (Decentralized Exchange) will be established, along with community-driven NFTs and staking incentives meant to encourage players to provide long-term liquidity to the game’s economy.

So far, there’s nothing in this roadmap that we haven’t seen promised before from other similar games. Let’s dig into the upcoming stage 2 expansion to see what they plan on doing.

Land Expansion

The whitepaper describes the “Land Expansion” phase thus:

  • Players will need to mint and unlock unique pieces of land. Each piece of land will have a random distribution of resources. If you are lucky, you could discover a rare resource like diamonds!
  • Land Expansion will serve as a core piece of gameplay which provides a clear goal in Sunflower Land - Expand your land and build your MetaVerse empire.
  • The aim of land expansion is to gather the necessary resources it takes to expand your piece of the MetaVerse. Each piece of land will offer new & unique resources, available spots to plant, space to grow animals and even new regions to explore the lore of Sunflower Land.
Source: Sunflower Land

There is an associated Github proposal that goes into more detail. The proposal lists the following “problems” that the feature is meant to solve, as well as four goals:


  • Not enough cool things to spend your SFL on - SFL earn is exceeding SFL burn
  • People feel they have 'come too late' and collecting resources is too difficult
  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Lack of uniqueness of farms
  • 'Feature factory'. Releasing small features every 2-3 weeks is not sustainable and will only take the game so far. Team is getting burnt out


  • More utility and a sink for SFL & existing resources (crops, wood, stone, iron etc.)
  • Enable players to build bigger empires on a single account, instead of the temptation of multi-accounting.
  • Add uniqueness to people’s land - your creation in the Metaverse
  • Make resource collection accessible and enjoyable to everyone after halvenings

The basic idea is that the player starts on a small island surrounded by water. There is a goblin NPC on the island they can give resources to which will increase the size of the island. In this way, the “land expansion” is a straightforward endgame resource sink.

Each expanded bit of land is a “unique NFT with a unique layout and resources.” Since the land expansions are NFTs, each one could be tradable with other players, though how this works out in practice is not specified in the proposal other than to note that this feature will not be available immediately. Each new expansion becomes progressively more expensive, and the proposal implies this escalation will occur on a per-player basis (i.e., your second land expansion is more expensive than the first). There is no upper limit to the number of land expansions that can be purchased in this way.

Given Naavik’s previous writing on virtual real estate economies and their challenges, we should take a moment to apply our “land-like asset” test. Briefly stated, we have observed that throughout the 30+ year history of virtual worlds and MMOs there is a strong risk for a virtual land recession or “housing crisis” whenever a game features an economic asset that is sufficiently “land-like.” These virtual recessions play out much like the real-world housing crisis, stagnating the game’s economy and driving prospective players away from any parts of the game driven by land-like assets. Land-like assets are defined as any asset where three properties hold: they are 1) scarce in supply, 2) necessary for production, and 3) obtain value from their location.

So how land-like are Sunflower Land’s land expansions?

Scarce in supply

Necessary for production

Obtains value from location

Not very land-like. By itself, this is a positive sign for the game’s economy, especially compared to other blockchain games.

Sunflower Land’s land expansions are economically closer to traditional “capital” in economic terms than they are to “land” in the real world. If you squint, you can see how owning land expansions are necessary for high-level endgame play, but they certainly don’t gatekeep access to the basic game, an infinite amount can be minted, and there’s no shared multiplayer environment with scarce and valuable locations for them to occupy. This means that Sunflower Land, whatever troubles it might face, is unlikely to experience the classic “metaverse real estate crash” we’ve witnessed in other blockchain games. We would not expect to see the same amount of interest from speculators and yield guilds in buying up Sunflower Land farms as an investment asset that we have seen in other “digital real estate” games.


Sunflower Land, back when it was Sunflower Farmers, was a unique blockchain gaming project in that it took the core promises of web3 very seriously and wasn’t afraid to bite a few bullets to do it. It was genuinely open source, robustly on-chain, and mostly did what it said. Unfortunately, it fell victim to a storm of bots and had to regroup.

The successor game follows along similar lines but has made some compromises. For one, it is no longer open source, merely “source available,” and has a greater degree of dependence on a centralized server. That said, the team still maintains most of their original ideals of wanting to produce a game that is genuinely community-driven and free from the pump-and-dump ponzinomics of other prominent crypto games.

So far, they’ve produced a perfectly serviceable clone of Farmville based on NFTs that trade on the blockchain. As a money-making vehicle, it’s nothing to write home about — users on the Discord have produced elaborate spreadsheets calculating daily farm yields under various configurations, and the bottom line based on our conversations is that with optimal play and current prices, the daily earn is about 90 cents a day. “Play to Own” is certainly a much more honest title here than “Play to Earn” or even “Play and Earn.”

So what can Thought Farm do from here? Our advice is to lean as heavily as it can into the intrinsic desire to play the game. An entire genre of farming and idle games has proven that players find this kind of gameplay enjoyable (to the point of being willing to pay money with no financial return in sight), so its conceivable that, with enough effort, Sunflower Land could achieve an inherently rewarding and fun game if it doesn’t get too distracted by the financial motivations and inherent complexity of blockchain gaming.

Should it pull it off and stick to the team’s promises, the final product might resemble a “player-owned co-op” of a game — one where the players truly “own” not only the game’s tokens, but also steer the direction of the game’s development itself. Further, players would exist in a weird but fascinating ongoing trade of time and money; time-rich players grinding out SFL tokens, while money-rich players who want to buy some resources to skip ahead providing the financial demand that props up the token rewards for the former.

This heady dream is undermined by several potential threats — first, the team has already walked back their promise on open source, which means that the community can never truly “own” the game’s most essential foundation — its source code — and must continue to place their trust in the developer. Second, the ever-present threat of bots cannot be underestimated, especially when financial incentives are involved. This is likely to remain an eternal cat and mouse game that the developer can never “win” so much as continuously strive to keep at a bearable stalemate. Finally, a declining player base and token price brings a natural cause for concern. For players who are primarily motivated by fun, there are many other far more engaging farming and idle games out there, and we’ve already seen what happens to financially motivated players once their rewards stop increasing.

Ultimately, we are skeptical that the upcoming features in Sunflower Land’s roadmap can reverse the negative trajectory of users, weather the ongoing crypto winter, and resist competition from similar crypto- and non-crypto-games alike.

Sunflower Land is a tender shoot that has sprung up quickly and already endured much. But only time will tell whether this seed has found fertile ground or is destined to be choked by thorns.

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