Critical Play: Is this game balanced? – Amy Lo


Hay Day is a farming simulator created by SuperCell. Its target audience is both kids and adults who want to relax and enjoy a simple game of farming, and it is designed for players 13 years or over of age. 

Important Formal Elements


While you play as a farmer, there isn’t much storyline to the game.

You can have small interactions with NPCs seeking to buy random quantities of items from you. There is some element of multiplayer interaction. You can join a guild of other players and connect with them to accomplish group goals and challenges.

You can also sell and trade with other players through chat or through your local farm stand. However, these interactions seem to be pretty surface-level.


The objective, simply put, is for you to have a nice farm. In order to do so, you’ll have to fulfill orders and sell items to get more money to spend on your goals. 

Whether that means a big farm, a beautifully decorated farm, or a farm with the most money – you can choose what strategy you want to employ in order to reach that objective. However, depending on what type of farm you want, your strategy might be different. 

There are a few strategies I’ve employed in the game so that I can expand my farm: 

  1. Selling items that take longer to make to players to maximize profit
  2. Buying items in bulk from other players for cheap prices
  3. Delivering ships filled with items to make more money


Since this game is a single-player game, the game designers use levels of creating different objects to set the challenge for the audience. At each new level of experience you get, you have new items that you can make. However, your constraints do not improve at the same rate.

When you first start the game, the crops are fast to plant and you have enough space to plant them. You also have more storage proportional to the items you need to make. As the game increases in difficulty, you’ll have to rely on some strategy in planning to feed all your animals and make items because the land and storage you have are harder to expand. 

There is a resource economy that is created through the game. Thus, there is also a balance between game objects in the game that you have to pay attention to. In this game, items have different values and thus different times that they need to take to be made. Additionally, animals rely on items for their sustenance to create new objects.

No single item is too powerful, and each item is valuable. You can’t do well in the game without planting easy crops like wheat, because they are essential to recipes and to animals. Selling items is needed to help you purchase more objects and animals. What doesn’t feel balanced sometimes in the game is the cost – time – to the benefit – the item. Some items in my opinion are not worth the time to craft, which is how the game designers try to get you to spend money or time watching ads to speed up the process. 

How they get you to spend money
Watching ads for special items

Three ways to balance game objects

  • Transitive: There is a cost curve associated with the resources in the game. The more valuable an item is, the more time it takes to make and the more resources that it takes. Additionally, the more features you have on your farm, the more overall resources and land you need in order to have a successful game experience. 

  • Intransitive: I didn’t see evidence of a purely intransitive relationship between Hay Day, which doesn’t need an extensive strategy. However, there is some type of relationship between the items you craft and animals, both of which rely on crops. Having more animals helps you craft more items, and having more items helps you feed your animals. Yet these often conflict with each other to make it more challenging for the player. 
  • Fruity: I don’t think that Hay Day does a great job at making objects different and unique; most are quite similar, and I often forgot what I was making or had to look it up. This is definitely a weakness that can make Hay Day feel boring to other people. 

Type of fun

Hay Day is an abnegation game. I played Hay Day exclusively during the pandemic in 2020 where I could just zone out whenever I felt stressed and farm! There isn’t a narrative or big community that I felt drawn to, and the tasks are particularly easy to accomplish. Thus, Hay Day is simple mindless fun where you grind, grind, and grind away at making your farm cool. 

Moments of particular success or epic fails

Particular Success

  • I figured out that you could visit other people’s farms and buy their very cheap wheat at low prices (1 coin) and resell it. This made me some fast and easy profit. I also ended up selling lots of resources to others when I wanted to make money by farming exclusively one highly lucrative crop. 

Epic Fails

  • When I didn’t build an ice cream machine, the game sort of got stuck. I couldn’t really accomplish any tasks without an ice cream machine, but it was way too expensive. Thus, I also couldn’t really make money either, which led me to a hiatus in playing Hay Day. 
  • I hate how the game relies on a super long amount of time to wait. There isn’t much you can do in the game when waiting for your crops to finish. Also, I hate the pay-to-win mentality in the game where you can “cheat” the waiting process by spending more real money or watching thousands of ads. 

Things you would change to make the game better

  • I would add more interaction with the characters you deliver items to. You don’t really get to know them and it feels unrealistic to just make money without any background information. 
  • I would add more narrative to the plot, such as a reason why you’re even farming in the first place. After many months of playing this game, it excited me less and less because I didn’t have any emotional attachment to any player, animal, or NPC. 
  • I would add more mini-games to offer the player something to do while they wait for their crops to grow. This would offer more ways for you to play and more strategies for the players to employ so they don’t feel bored so easily. 

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