The Giant Stirs: Zynga Shows Social Network, Farmville 2

By Nathan Grayson on June 27th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Hey, artwork! ...That's completely non-representative of the final game, which will apparently be 3D.

If ever today gets turned into a television special, it will be called A Very Zynga News Day. The social Godzilla with the real social skills of an actual Godzilla went announcement mad during its Zynga Unleashed briefing – which sounds like it was named for a Godzilla movie. So, let’s see, blah blah blah Sims Social clone blah blah blah ChefVille for some reason blah blah blah… oh! Here’s something: Zynga’s very own social network, called Zynga With Friends. Also they announced Farmville 2 or whatever.

Polygon reports that Zynga With Friends is set to function as a centralized “portal” for all Zynga-related interactions – whether they happen on Facebook, mobile devices, or ZWF (pronounced “zwiff”) itself. “One network, one unified experience, one social lobby that will for the first time connect all our players no matter where they’re playing” is the central philosophy of the service, which will allow chatting, profiles, and synchronous multiplayer. That’s right: no more notification tag – well, at least for some games. I really, really hope other social devs follow suit.

Farmville 2, meanwhile, got more of a quick-and-dirty throwaway mention – though a few details did manage to sneak out. Chief technology officer Cadir Lee told BBC:

“One of the things that people will notice right away is that it’s our first 3D game. All the buildings, crops and animals are shown in 3D. You can see them from multiple directions, they can rotate, you can see them more richly – so it provides a certain pop in the game itself. The game also has more social elements and a lot more crafting: the crops that you harvest are what you use in the game to make things which you then use to make other things, like on a natural farm.”

So that, at least, is sort of interesting. After all, even social gaming’s most prominent figures have no problem admitting that it’s a giant copycat race, and Zynga’s at the head of the pack in more ways than one. That in mind, I’d honestly like to see everybody copy 3D graphics and synchronous multiplayer, so this might not be such a bad thing. Or maybe they’ll all miss the point and just make more farm games. Time will tell, I suppose.

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48 Comments »

  1. Tei says:

    I wonder if the game have anti botting protections. It can be a fun challenge to write a bot for this.

  2. SquareWheel says:

    I hope this company dies.

    • mr.ioes says:

      A lot of people like it. You don’t.

      • Jay says:

        Zynga are an actively toxic part of the industry. As far as deplorable business practices that damage the whole of games development go, they’re up there with Activision with their policies of treating customers and developers like expendable assets to be bled dry. Fuck them.

        • kwyjibo says:

          Making a fuckload of money does not damage games development.

          “Up there with Activision”? You seem to have a problem with success.

          • Aedrill says:

            Really? That’s your argument in discussion? Earning money is not evil? Well thank you, Captain Obvious. Unfortunately that’s not what Jay said. Jay was talking about their policies and the way they treat customer/developer. It doesn’t really matter what their bank account looks like really but it’s actually bad for us that they’re successful (both Zynga and Acti) because people will follow them and continue to ruin this industry.

          • Jay says:

            You only have to do the most basic research to find out what I’m talking about. Like clicking pretty much any link provided lower down in the comments.

            It’s not that they make so much money. It’s that they make so much money by directly cloning others’ games then marketing the creators into oblivion, suing anyone that tries the same thing themselves, and incorporating entirely cynical and manipulative mechanisms to bring out the absolute worst addictive traits in people. Lots of companies do that last one to some degree, sure. But plenty of them manage it with at least some sense of restraint or social responsibility, if only because they’d actually be embarrassed to take it so far into moustache-twirling, cackling comedy villain territory.

            Short version – there’s a good reason they’re widely hated by most of the industry. And as hard as it might be for you to believe, it’s not because they’re jealous.

      • JackShandy says:

        Hey, a lot of people like crack cocaine.

    • eks says:

      What a truly arrogant thing to say. I don’t like these “social” games either and think they are stupid but millions of people get enjoyment from playing them. Just because I don’t personally like them doesn’t mean I think those that do are terrible, that they shouldn’t play them or that their way of wasting time is any more invalid then my way of wasting time.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Who said anything about the people playing the games? People will play (and generally consume) whatever gets aggressively marketed towards them, I think history has shown that popularity does not always equate to quality. Zynga do nothing but clone other games and produce monetised lowest common denominator rubbish that they push out to people with aggressive advertising campaigns. It’s nothing to do with them being social and casual games, both of which I’m a big fan of, it’s to do with them being clones that are structured to eek money from microtransactions, not to fulfill people creatively. Yes lots of people play Zynga games, but they would be playing better games that forwarded the medium creatively and gave people a more satisfactory experience if Zynga and other companies that produce cheap monetised rip-offs didn’t exist.

        • abandonhope says:

          Well said. I have a strong suspicion that Zynga’s products are a significant contributor to my mom’s depression. Several health issues have her out of work, and while she does other things (light gardening, painting) I’m pretty sure these games have also lowered her tolerance for disappointment, criticism, and failures.

        • Shuck says:

          “lots of people play Zynga games, but they would be playing better games … if Zynga and other companies that produce cheap monetised rip-offs didn’t exist.”
          Would they, though? For a lot of Zynga’s customers, this is their entry to gaming. Some of my colleagues in the game industry insist that once the thin formula that Zynga and their ilk employ to make games gets tiresome for these players, they will move on to more complex games. I’m not even sure about that, frankly – I rather suspect the way Zynga’s games fulfill needs may not be replicated by more traditional games, and so players will simply get burned out at some point and leave computer games behind entirely.

        • Brun says:

          Yes lots of people play Zynga games, but they would be playing better games that forwarded the medium creatively and gave people a more satisfactory experience if Zynga and other companies that produce cheap monetised rip-offs didn’t exist.

          I really doubt that. If Zynga suddenly disappeared, all of the people playing those games would either:

          A) Find comparable games from other sources that are on the same complexity and time-consuming level as FarmVille, etc. This probably would mean things like smartphone games.

          or

          B) Just stop playing games altogether.

          There are people that think Zynga is “teaching” a gaming-ignorant audience how to play games (the same way Nintendo did with the Wii). If that’s true, eventually Zynga’s games will evolve into things that resemble serious (“real”) games over time.

      • JackShandy says:

        These games are based around the same concept as a slot machine: Psychological tricks designed to addict victims and get them to spend as much money as possible. They probably believe they enjoy it, but the game has been designed to drain these people and offer nothing in return. It’s the worst kind of game imaginable and I have no qualms wishing they would stop making it. It is terrible, they shouldn’t play it, it is invalid.

        • HothMonster says:

          But…but…but…cow clicker!

        • eks says:

          You mean just like practically every video game with DLC or basically every MMO ever made?

          I bet you legitimately think you actually enjoy video games right? Your same argument can be made. You only enjoy them because corporations create and market them, oh and indie game developers are just piggy-backing on the popularity that these companies create. They just want to take your money.

          Every hobby these days can be distilled down to some entity wanting to create profit from it. That doesn’t automatically make it “bad”.

          “Psychological tricks designed to addict victims and get them to spend as much money as possible.” Sounds like you nailed the MMO market down. Give me a break.

          • Phantoon says:

            Well, yeah.

            I played Warcraft a lot longer than I actually enjoyed it, because it’s a Skinner Box.

          • Shuck says:

            “Sounds like you nailed the MMO market down.”
            Exactly. This is far more true of MMOs than even Zynga’s games. And it’s not just MMOs, either – Diablo absolutely uses these sorts of mechanisms to drive engagement and the designers were cognizant of that fact.

          • Brun says:

            I’ll just leave this right here:

            http://insertcredit.com/2011/09/22/who-killed-videogames-a-ghost-story/

            EDIT: Dammit, someone beat me to it!

          • Aedrill says:

            You’re wrong. You mistake marketing with brainwashing and involvement with Skinner Box. I play games because they’re fun or because I like the story. There’s nothing addictive in The Witcher 1/2 or Deus Ex, or Stalker, or DayZ, or ArmA 2, or many other games that focus on being interesting from the start to finish instead of hooking me on the promise of enjoyment “just around the corner”.

            I played Farmville for some time. I treated it like an actual game, some sort of simplified version of Harvest Moon, you might say. And it sucked. It’s too easy to build biggest possible farm and it’s tedious to take care of it, because Zynga wants you to pay for stuff that makes it less annoying. That’s why I stopped playing. Because it wasn’t fun and I’ve seen what it was trying to do – make me addicted. I’ve never had such experience with any actual game.

          • Jay says:

            There’s a huge difference between a game developed with addictive mechanisms in mind, and one developed entirely around exploiting those mechanisms.

            I don’t think skinner boxes are necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about where you draw the line. It’s the difference between your bog-standard MMO and something like ZT Online.

  3. suibhne says:

    One of the threats that Facebook (rightly) identified in its S-1 filing was the fact that a significant chunk of revenue is dependent on one company: Zynga. Most people tend to see them as separate entities, but FB and Zynga are pretty co-dependent right now – and FB is arguably much more dependent on Zynga than vice versa. Zynga may be overvalued (may be), but it’s not going away anytime soon.

    • joel4565 says:

      It would be quite interesting to see what would happen to Facebook if Zynga “took their toys and went home”. I imagine Facebook is quite aware of the situation and I wouldn’t be suprised if they don’t check with Zynga and other big players before changing their policies, api’s, etc.

    • Baboonanza says:

      And that’s clearly what their ‘portal’ is aimed at. A large chunk of their revenue must go on Facebook’s slice of purchases so the more people they can get playing through their own portal instead the better.

    • Milky1985 says:

      I don’t agree that FB is more dependent on zynga than vice versa, its been documented that the type of people that play this sort of game will switch games at the drop of a hat.

      I would think its more like that if zynga suddenly dropped facebook yes they would get a lot of people over to teh new site (people would get confused, think its still linked to FB and sign up again), they would log in a lot less often because lots of the peopel who play this sort of game do it on facebook when they catch upw ith there friends.

      Zynga are courting a crowd who are easily distracted, if they leave facebook, they will just go to a different shiny on facebook. Thats what i predit woudl happen if they did split fully.

  4. joel4565 says:

    Ah Zynga…The plague on gaming. Either they steal a game and burn the concept into the ground or they buy a small game company and burn it into the ground.

    The only good thing that these horrible social games do is introduce gaming to people who don’t normally play games. Unfortunately it is very hard to get people to convert these people to real games after having Zynga’s crack. I tried to convince my mom to play The Sims or something instead of Farmville, but alas…

  5. Terragot says:

    Looks like ZNGA are moving away from facebook, no surprise after the IPO screwing and the zynga dollars fiasco. What they do now will be interesting, this is either the begginings of a rat falling down a drain pipe, struggling to stay afloat or a very calculated measure to assert their dominance over a market sector FB hasn’t claimed yet.

  6. Revisor says:

    I’ll just leave this here for the interested:

    Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell (10/2009)
    - These games try to get people to pay cash for in game currency so they can level up faster and have a better overall experience. Which is fine. But for users who won’t pay cash, a wide variety of “offers” are available where they can get in-game currency in exchange for lead gen-type offers. Most of these offers are bad for consumers because it confusingly gets them to pay far more for in-game currency than if they just paid cash.

    (Cut into more comments to avoid the spam filter)

  7. Vexing Vision says:

    Funnily enough, right after they made the big announcement, their stock dropped by five percent.

    If I had any Zynga stock, I’d have pulled out as well – it’s a big company, but it relies on using an existing network, like Facebook, to convert users. No new user is going to go through the process of signing up to specifically play a Zynga game.

    Now, if PopCap were doing that… mhmmm…

  8. Skabooga says:

    “One network, one unified experience, one social lobby that will for the first time connect all our players no matter where they’re playing”

    . . . one social platform to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them.

  9. phelix says:

    “One of the things that people will notice right away is that it’s our first 3D game. All the buildings, crops and animals are shown in 3D.”

    Oh my! What a unique selling point. It’s not like 3D has been around since the 1990s or something silly like that.

    No seriously, Zynga, and their greed-saturated masters should die. And then, in the bowels of hell, be forced to play their own games for all eternity. That’ll be enjoyable.

  10. Glordu says:

    hey! VOSTU had these features waaay before zynga (except the 3D stuff)

  11. Veridos says:

    Is it officially time to stock up on canned foods and ammo now?

  12. rustybroomhandle says:

    For anyone foolish enough to think they might enjoy this, might I reccommend Family Farm instead. It’s not out to milk you dry, at least.

  13. Phantoon says:

    See, Godzilla has no social skills.

    They were thinking of Gamera, or maybe Mothra.

  14. Zarunil says:

    These social games encourage anti-social behavior. You get ahead by exploiting your “friends”. The more people you spam, the faster you progress.

  15. SCdF says:

    It’s funny how the phrase “social gaming” is a bit like the phrase “professional wrestling”– both phrases actually describe the opposite of what they look like they describe (‘professional wrestling is the made up fake wrestling, normal wresting is actual real wrestling; social games are not actually social, normal ‘non-social’ multiplayer games are far more social)

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