Friday, December 3rd, 2021

How FarmVille creators bring a mobile empire to console games

When you think of FarmVille, you may have vague and vague memories of old games that you used to play in your Facebook browser. Or you may just remember that different families are trying to help them on the farm.

However, while the original game may be an ambiguous memory for those who don’t play games on their mobile phones, its creator, Zynga, has been more relevant and powerful since then. Not only has FarmVille 3 just released, it has been a huge mobile success for many years with games such as Words With Friends, CSR Racing and a variety of other titles. In recent years, we have made numerous acquisitions, including developers NaturalMotion, Echtra, Rollic, StarLark, and the ad monetization platform Chartboost. Currently, IGN has revealed three Turkish-based hyper-casual studios, ByteTyper, Creasaur Entertainment and Zerosum.

And now Zynga is stepping out of the mobile empire and preparing to challenge console games.

Its first outpost is Star Wars: Hunters, a real-time arena fighter that will be available on iOS, Android, and Switch early next year. This is a big move for studios that have established a solid position in the field of free mobile and browser games for over 14 years. And to do that, Zynga puts resources and trust in acquisitions such as Hunters developer NaturalMotion and Torchlight developer Echtra.

“Cross-platform is a major growth pillar for Zynga,” Zynga president Bernard Kim tells IGN. “So buy Ektra, [whose team have] Built great games like Diablo and Torchlight […] Launched from that team under the Zynga Publishing Portfolio, you can imagine something really exciting that diversifies us, not just mobile. “

Kim confirms that Star Wars: Hunters is the beginning, but not the end of Zynga’s cross-platform ambitions. There are other games in progress that haven’t been announced so far that Kim can’t speak to. But he can hint at some of what Zynga wants to do in space. First, we want to stay cross-platform. We are not developing console-only games. The goal is to remain “mobile first”. Therefore, every investment in hyper-casual is a genre of simple, easy-to-play short games that has skyrocketed to succeed on mobile. Multiple new studios and an ad monetization platform in addition to cross-platform. Investing in the platform.

Secondly, it may be sticking to free play. “I have nothing to announce, […] Our goal is to get as many viewers as possible. That’s why free-to-play and mobile are really important pillars for doing so. I don’t think there will be any changes in that aspect, “says Kim.

Third, Hunters is exclusively for Switch and mobile, but other console platforms, and even PCs, could be included in the card in the future. We just announced DiscoLoco 3D as a game exclusively for TikTok, looking back on its roots on social platforms.

And fourth, Star Wars: Hunters are clearly involved in a very popular licensed intellectual property, but Zynga plans to play licensed games as part of its cross-platform ambitions. It’s not just about

“We have an entire portfolio of games that can work very well cross-platform,” he suggests. “We have nothing to announce at this time, but you can imagine. We have a major Star Wars game, a major driving game on the mobile market, and great assets. We have a great match-3 experience.”

Star Wars Hunter-Screenshots and Art

One of the controversial and hazy elements that may apply to all these ambitions is blockchain games with NFTs. Zynga recently hired Matt Wolf as the VP of blockchain games. This shows a keen interest in this area alongside many other gaming companies such as Square Enix, Ubisoft and EA.

Kim doesn’t yet have details on how these will be played in Zynga games in the future, whether mobile or not, but I’m sure they won’t be ubiquitous throughout the portfolio. .. He also admits that they are not suitable for everyone, but no details are given on how Zynga uses them, but the game I believe it will be a “chaos” for the industry.

“We want to take a safe, comprehensive and environmentally friendly approach,” he answers questions about the harmful ecological consequences of blockchain technology and concerns about rampant fraud. “That’s part of the reason we want people with experience launching new product lines to be part of Zynga. Matt’s is particularly focused on this area to help companies think about it. There was actually a focused consulting firm, and now he’s going to do that. Here in Zynga. “

The move to Zynga console space, with or without NFTs, is coming sooner or later. According to Kim, Zynga plans to acquire more in the future, including studios other than mobile space, such as Echtra. And with the mobile-first approach and the adoption of hyper-casual, it’s not hard to imagine what it would look like. Mobile audiences are large even when games aren’t mainstream in traditional games, and successful monetization tactics, gameplay styles, and genres in the field are taste makers of what ultimately succeeds on the console. Often proves. It’s no wonder that Farm Ville’s vague memories on Facebook may one day be updated in console 4K.

“We’re bullish on cross-platform gameplay, or we won’t,” Kim concludes.

Rebekah Valentine is an IGN news reporter. You can find her on twitter @duckvalentine..