The success of Flash Games: Zynga
Zynga has become something of a commonly used reference when talking about casual online gaming.
In just four very short years, this company has monetized its IPs to such an extent that the company is valued now at somewhere around the 5.5 billion dollar mark, a bit over Electronic Arts which conversely is the second largest game publisher and also a company founded in 1982.
How did this happen, how can an extremely young company get to be worth more than one that has been around almost as long as home video games have?
The short answer: Facebook; the longer answer: social networking entertainment.
Indeed, it couldn’t have happened without the phenomenon that is social networking and Facebook in particular.
Working out a deal to disseminate their addictive games via Facebook and programming them in such a way so as to promote the continual use and growth of the website worked as a win-win for both the parties involved.
How they did that was very easy given the framework of the social networking site, basically the more friends you had that played the game with you the better you would do at the game. This meant that if someone wanted to get better and bigger items, and didn’t want to spend real world money to get them, they would have to get some of their friends involved with the game and so on and so forth.
Their best known games have been Farmville and relatively recently Frontierville, but Farmville’s become the go to reference in popular media, mostly related to people spending too much time on Facebook, but as there is no such thing as bad publicity, they can’t lose either way.
On the 2nd of December 2010, they launched their latest variation of the “Ville” series, namely Cityville, and in the short span of time that has passed since it has already become the most played of the “Ville” games proving that the market for these types of games is nowhere near saturation.
I say this because the game maintains many of the mechanics, features and characteristics of their older games but as opposed to the others, this time they combined what they’ve been successful on their own with something that has been a success since 1989 – SimCity.
So in less than two months, they’ve managed to reach the top spot when it comes to social network games, a spot they already held with Farmville. Obviously most of the players of the new game are also players of Farmville, but equally obvious is the fact that there are many more new players that have either just come aboard with the new title or older players who got sick of either Farmville or Frontierville and decided to give the new game a try, and they’re sticking around at least for the moment.
Time will tell whether this latest title will indeed become the new Farmville, or the latter will reclaim its spot as top dog, but it is interesting to watch further how long can this trend continue; because sooner or later they’ll have to go to space with it and where do you go from there?