CityVille: Zynga still knows how to clone

Facebook's most successful gaming developer announces a city-building Ville

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
November 18, 2010
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In Hello City (Crowdstar), you build a city. In Millionaire City (Digital Chocolate), you’re a rich businessperson that purchases land and constructs buildings, forming your million dollar empire. In My Empire (Playfish), you build another (very Roman-influenced) empire. In Social City (Playdom), you create your very own social network and kill the competition. Just kidding, you actually just build a city.

But just in case you’re not already sick of building cities, there’s another city-building game on the way.


Zynga, easily the most successful gaming developer on Facebook and elsewhere, announced Wednesday night that its newest game, CityVille, will be launching in beta in the coming weeks.

CityVille gamers get to develop their virtual city from the ground up by planning the layout, constructing buildings, populating it, growing crops, initiating trade deals and completing various city management-related tasks. As always, users will constantly be assigned goals that, once achieved, will unlock upgrades, like rare buildings and decorations. And, finally, it wouldn’t be a social game if friends couldn’t visit friends’ cities.

Launching in five languages--English, German, Italian, Spanish and French--CityVille will be Zynga’s first game to be international on day one. To match the milestone, gamers will be able to erect select international monuments, like the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel TowerAs far as creativity’s concerned, it’s kind of sad that Zynga has returned to just carbon copying game ideas. With FrontierVille we saw something actually new and different being created, but CityVille is just Zynga’s version of a bunch of other games already on Facebook.

Not that cloning is necessarily a bad thing. It’s good for business, at least. The game that helped rocket Zynga to the spotlight in mid-2009, for example, was a little farming game called FarmVille, a pretty obvious clone of Farm Town, a game developed by Slashkey months earlier. Today, 60 million people still play FarmVille, a statistic Zynga likes because it means they can say that 1% of the world’s population play the game.

Zynga says 28 million monthly users play FrontierVille, the company’s most recently launched game, and, overall, the startup boasts 320 million users.

I poke fun at the fact that Zynga is riding the wave of a series of city games, but their lateness probably won’t matter so much. With 320 mililon people playing the company’s other games, there’s absolutely no doubt that a large number of people will start trying out the new application when Zynga starts flooding them with CityVille ads. It would be surprising if CityVille did not end up being as successful as FrontierVille. In fact, I expect CityVille to be more popular because it copies games already in a popular space.

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