CityVille: Zynga still knows how to clone

Ronny Kerr · November 18, 2010 · Short URL:

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

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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Digital Chocolate


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Digital Chocolate is a developer of games and applications for mobile phones. Based in San Mateo, California, Digital Chocolate offers many of the world's most popular games including Scarlotti's Mafia Wars 2, Mobile League WordJong, Bubble Ducky, and Johnny Crash. Digital Chocolate products are available through more than 200 operator and distribution partners, including Cingular, Orange, Sprint, T-Mobile, 3, Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone in over 60 countries worldwide.



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Playfish is a social games company that creates games for people to play together.

Founded in October 2007 by casual and mobile games veterans and backed by $3M in seed funding, we believe games are more fun when played with friends and family. So we are working on combining the best elements of casual games, social networks, MMOGs and virtual worlds to create entirely new, more social ways of enjoying great games together.

Traditional computer games focus on standalone game play on consoles, your PC or on your mobile. Games that do allow you to play together with others online normally require you to buy the game, go online and try and find like-minded new friends who are also playing the game. This is something that usually only the most dedicated gamers are prepared to do.

Our social games are different. Social games allow you to play together with real-world friends and family using the infrastructure built by social networks. This is in some ways a return to the roots of games. You play with the same people you would play cards, board games or go bowling with in the real world. Sharing the game experience with friends makes it more compelling and fun.

At Playfish we believe social games are a big part of the future of the video games industry, and are working hard to be the leading company in this emerging sector.

Playfish is headquartered in London, UK with offices in Beijing, China and Tromsø, Norway.



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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users.  Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist.  The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.  Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit