Can Zynga Renew Old Success?

Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is hoping to bring back the love its most successful video game earned from millions of devoted users. The company has unveiled Farmville 2, a game that builds on the original’s real-time farming simulation by adding 3D graphics that let players view the fantasy world from several angles. However, users will not be allowed to carry over items from the original game.

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“One of the things that people will notice right away is that it’s our first 3D game,” Zynga’s chief technology officer Cadir Lee told the BBC. “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.

Farmville 2 will have a big task trying to overhaul the game’s first edition, which peaked in March 2010 with about 82 million users playing it at least once a month. The title has remained Zynga’s biggest earner for two years now, accounting for 29 percent of its revenue over the first three months of the year. Almost 21.7 million users still log on to the game at least once a month.

Zynga went public in December, but has seen a fall in stock prices over the last few months as some analysts accuse the company of being too dependent on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Investors have also been worried that Zynga’s portfolio of games is too narrow.

“It’s not about diversifying,” chief executive Mark Pincus said. “It’s about taking the path to get our games in front of the largest possible audience and then deepen the value.”

It may also be facing the same problem as the social network: the growing popularity of mobile devices. Although Zynga offers mobile versions of several of its games through Facebook’s app, these have not proved popular. Zynga has now begun launching separate app downloads of its games.

Among other titles released at the event were The Ville, in which players build a house and develop relationships with other players, Zynga Elite Slots, and the restaurant-simulating Chefville. Zynga is also hoping to attract third-party developers with its newly announced network where they can tap into the company’s pool of active players, keep track of their highest scores, and use Zynga’s new head-to-head gaming features.

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