It might sound crazy to say, but Farmville is one of the most influential games of this millennium, being perhaps the popular spark for the simulation genre that has become wildly popular through the rise of Facebook gaming and on mobile. There’s probably no Clash of Clans without Farmville. While Zynga has seen better days, Farmville 2: Country Escape is still a big deal because it’s one of the few free-to-play games with history and a sort of gravitas. Well, as much gravitas as a free-to-play game about farming can have. Right now, Zynga’s soft-launched the game in Canada and we’ve gotten our straw hat and overalls on to lead a more rustic lifestyle on our non-rustic technology in this edition of It Came From Canada.
The game essentially follows a simple pattern: water crops and feed animals to get basic resources. Combine these resources into more complex resources and even specific products, and then sell them for gold and experience points in order to buy and unlock new crops and buildings, ultimately expanding one’s farm through buying new plots of land. Repeat until satisfied. It’s a classic formula, and one that Farmville 2 tries to set up early on with teases of online elements like selling to other players. Ultimately, it doesn’t really rock the boat too much.
Interestingly, FarmVille 2 gives players a lot of keys (the game’s hard currency), at least to start out with: a total of 90. Of course the game tries to get players to use them in a variety of fashions in small increments when starting out. Skip a pesky wait timer with a key? Well sure, why not, I have plenty of them! Be able to produce twice as much flour by paying five keys to unlock that option? Sure! It’s easy to see those keys running out at some point.
That should be one of the interesting things to keep an eye on as the game nears its worldwide release: the keys could definitely be tweaked to give out more or fewer when starting and while playing – leveling up and buying new plots of land gives out more keys, for example. Another unanswered question is just how this game will fare in a world where simulation games have grown up to become Clash of Clans and its similar ilk: will people be willing to jump back in to Zynga’s familiar rustic experience? We’ll find out soon enough.
Zynga’s back with another game in their series of -Ville titles. This time, it’s all about building a magical kingdom in CastleVille Legends, currently available in Canada and Australia. I take it for a run in this episode of It Came From Canada!
There’s plenty of the initial hand-holding that many of these building games are prone to have: it starts off by showing everything that’s possible, and giving helpful hints as to what exactly the premium currency, crowns, can be spent on. Because of course that’s necessary. Items that serve as resources can be farmed and used to craft new items which can be sold for gold coins, which help make the castle’s land bigger, which necessitates more gold and more resource farming, and so on ad infinitum. The timers are thankfully short early on, though it’s hard to imagine them staying that way – these games depend on lengthy timers!
Heroes play a key role: they can be sent off on ‘quests’, which means “their avatar disappears for a period of time, after which the player gets a reward.” It’s not a very creative system – signs that anything beyond the idea of questing are not exactly present.
While the game’s mechanics tick off a lot of the “free-to-play gaming by numbers” that many titles have, at least Zynga is focusing on production values here: the art is highly-detailed and everything is well-animated, so it’s one of the nicer-looking experiences of the sort.
The game is currently in testing in Canada and Australia, and it’s likely that its monetization in particular is being put to the test – will this game make any money over time? It’ll be up to how Canadians, Australians, and those pretending to be from there decide it to be. Get a taste of the game now with our video footage.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on June 24th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Eden to Green is a new tower defense game about a group of plants defending their home planet from mechanical monsters. Pocket Gamer reports that the game features more than 40 plants and trees for players to unlock with over 70 levels to play through. Players can also share their mightily grown plants with friends through social features. Now go blast away those robo-monster creeps who are infringing on your land!
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on May 23rd, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Casual game mega-publisher Zynga has just released a new arcade hack ‘n’ slash game called Battlestone. You’ll get to swipe your way to victory, fighting off hordes of enemies in single player mode, while squaring up against others in PvP modes. Once you get into the game, you’ll collect characters, summoning and upgrading heroes to beat ever-more difficult enemies and environments. Get your swipe on today with this free-to-play game on your iPad or iPhone.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on May 10th, 2013 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Zynga just released a new app called Running with Friends. In this game, it’s the players’ job to outrun and outscore their friends while remaining one step ahead of charging bulls. It’s not just the bulls that players need to dodge, but speeding cars, flying barrels and more, all while running down the streets of Pamplona, Spain. Watch out!
*Jump off ramps and soar above buildings.
*RIDE bucking bulls for bonuses.
*CHALLENGE your friends or run with new ones.
*RUN as a ninja, ballerina, or zombie.
*COMPETE to be on top of the leaderboard.
*EXPLORE cool locations.
Zynga has released a new trailer for their upcoming massive online battle arena (MOBA) game, Solstice Arena. The trailer provides a first look at the multiplayer action gameplay and character progression system. The team is focused on creating a well-balanced fighting game on mobile devices that will appeal to all fans of the genre.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on May 2nd, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Respawnables gets an update that adds the ability to invite friends to join your team in multiplayer matches. The update also adds new a new map as well as new weapons, gadgets, gear, and more. There are Men In Black and Ghostbusters avatars, weapons, and uniforms to choose from, including the Men In Black neuralizer and stealth gadget.
Posted by Jeff Scott on November 29th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Clay Jam has hit the App Store. After nearly a year of waiting, this claymation game is finally out. We talked with the developer Fat Pebble a bit about creating the game.
Michael Movel and Chris Roe from Fat Pebble in Brighton, England tell us it took a lot of love, care, and effort to create Clay Jam. Chris Roe commented “It was the best way to go to make it look authentic, to make it handmade.” The 100% clay animation used in the game allowed them to give the game a distinct look over typically 3D rendered games. Though using stop motion animation with the hand modeled pieces took longer than using a traditional CGI methods, it also allowed them greater creative control, but yet less flexibility to make changes.
Take a look here are Clay Jam, I think you’ll agree it is a very distinct look.
Clay Jam is out now, published by Zynga, and is free in the App Store.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on October 19th, 2012 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Not enough swiping and slashing in your life? Perhaps Zynga has the answer with a game that will of course be compared to Fruit Ninja, only instead of fruit, you get to slash at zombies. This update brings a few fixes to many of our complaints in our original review.
The undead are leaping for your lobes! Dust off your trusty machete and help Joey, our intrepid hero, show them some manners the Zombie Swipeout way!
- The new arcade action game from the creators of ZombieSmash!
- Whose machete swing reigns supreme? Compete against your friends and earn medals in weekly tournaments.
- Machetes too cliche? Unlock and equip weapons with different abilities like the Head Slapper and the Prince of Cleaves.
- Level up and unlock cool powerups like grenades, liquid nitrogen, and more to combat the hordes. Zombies hate powerups!
- Whoops! Keep Joey alive or the game is over . . . or is it? Rescue Joey feature lets you fight on!
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on October 11th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Veteran game company, Atari, teams up with new giant on the block, Zynga, to bring us all Super Bunny Breakout, a variation on the classic Breakout franchise with that special Zynga sauce.
In Super Bunny Breakout, players control Rodney – a daredevil rabbit with an appetite for revenge – launching him from a laboratory platform as he bounces around to destroy different structures and cages. Players can either collect or purchase coins via in-app purchase to feed critters and restore energy. Coins can also be used to purchase additional power-ups, food and cosmetic goods.
According to Stuart Dredge over at The Guardian, buzz-worthy app Song Pop now has 1.9 daily active users (DAUs) across its iOS, Android, and Facebook platforms, with an extra 400,000 users added in the last week alone. He contrasts this with Zynga’s Draw Something DAU numbers, at 4.4 million DAUs with a loss of 400,000 in the past week.
Song Pop is currently a free download in the App Store, following the business model of oh so many other social games of this sort. Interestingly, however, developer Fresh Planet has also just released a premium version of the app for $1.99. What do you get for your two bucks? You can play with twice as many friends at one time, listen to extended higher quality music clips, and the app will never have ads, ever, or so promises the App Store description. Sounds good to us! It’s a free app, so you can’t have much to lose. Except, maybe, your free time.
Since then, we haven’t heard too much about the game. That is until now. It’s just been announced that developers, Fat Pebble, have partnered up with Zynga to feature as a launch title for Zynga Partners for Mobile, the company’s partner program for game developers.
Clay Jam is hopefully a step nearer to its release, with players taking the role of Fat Pebble, a pebble superhero, as they guide him (it?) down five hills to squash as many monsters as possible. It all sounds pretty cute and very Katamari-ish, with an unique graphical style. The ideal reason to be interested.
For now, check out the preview below. Hopefully it won’t be long till we see it released.
Phosphor Games Studio’s last creation, Dark Meadow, received high praise for its haunting atmosphere and attention to detail. Now, they’ve announced a partnership with social gaming juggernaut Zynga to help release their newest title, Horn. The game appears to continue their tradition of intricate world-building and Infinity Blade-inspired action while moving in a more fantastical, almost Shadow of the Colossus styled, direction. However it ultimately turns out, this adventure at least looks promising.
Horn puts players in control of a young blacksmith’s apprentice named Horn in a story based on the Old English tales of King Horn. Using his sword, crossbow, and, of course, his horn, players must lead Horn in a quest to undo a curse that has transformed his fellow villagers into bizarre monsters. Every action from combat to puzzle solving makes use of the game’s touch gesture system. Horn features three distinct open-worlds to explore and nine game levels making for a campaign about 10 hours long.
We also know that Horn’s score comes courtesy of Austin Wintory, the award winning composer behind PlayStation indie darling thatgamecompany’s flOw and Journey. Unfortunately, we do not yet know Horn’s price or release date. Expect more news soon though.
It’s a tiny bit depressing that many of us here are older than Atari. Still as OG’s (original geeks) most of us equate the name with our and their glory years of gaming. Recently the former giant has been reinventing itself, having previously released their VCS catalog and a few arcade hits in a Greatest Hits package for iOS, and with more recent forays into the App Store like CircusAtari and Centipedes Origins. They are also winding up a contest for indie developers who took their original, maybe the original video game, PONG and remade it for iOS. The finalists have been announced and can be found here. The company turns 40 today and much of the recent flurry of activity is to celebrate the occasion.
The company was founded back in 1972 with PONG making their presense known to a new generation. Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Dig Dug,Paper Boy and dozens of other arcade games became quarter-gobblers through the 70’s and 80’s, while the Atari 2600 defined the home console market.
The company is using the big day to announce a new partnership with Zynga to make mobile titles, freemium games we presume. That’s a dubious partnership, but one that should be interesting to follow. They are also holding a big giveaway, “40 Giveaways in 4 Days” which is open to US residents only, with details on Atari’s Facebook page.
We wish Atari many happy returns of the day, and look forward to a new generation getting to know them on iOS. Check out the nostalgic trailer and peek in the gallery to see a cool infographic on Atari’s history.
The social gaming giant, Zynga, just released the next app in their casino gaming line on Friday, Zynga Slots. With little marketing at all, the game rose in the free iPhone game rankings from #105 (Sunday) to #6 (Monday night). BTIG Media‘s Rich Greenfield, an analyst for the company, made some interesting observations on Zynga’s casino gaming line and what it may do to their valuation.
Greenfield observed they incredible and lasting success of Zynga Poker. The game was released in 2007 and continues to be the #7 top grossing app on iOS and accounted for 16% of Zynga’s revenue in Q1. He see slots as another easily monetized game and notes how Zynga competitors are already fairing in that space,
“Both the monetization and staying power of poker is intuitive. For slots games, it is a little less intuitive. However, Zynga competitors have been very successful in the space – illustrating the addictive nature of the game.”
Greenfield also noted that the demographic Zynga is going after with a slots game is a demographic it knows well – women over 35. For Farmville, two-thirds of its player base are women and 50% of those players are over 35. Slotomania, a slots competitor, has similar numbers (two-thirds women and two-thirds over 35).
BTIG Media and Entertainment Research believes that there’s option value in Zynga right now in terms of the legalization of online gambling,
“We continue to believe that there is significant option value in Zynga for the legalization of online gambling, which is not reflected in ZNGA shares…We believe there will be gambling potential on nearly all of Zynga’s games. However, the most immediate traction will be in traditional casinos games.”
While simultaneously mocking and yet contributing to the App Store clone madness around Flappy Bird, Hodappy Bird has been released by Madgarden. And the whole Flappy Bird thing implodes upon itself. As Ryan Evans described it, it’s “the Citizen Kane of Flappy Bird clones.” It’s the ultimate move of App Store ridicule, mocking them from […]