Hidden Chronicles, Zynga’s newest game, is attacking a whole new audience. It’s going after more competitive gamers than Zynga’s other games typically do.Check out our walkthrough of Zynga’s latest game.
We spoke with Cara Ely, the creative director behind the new game. Here’s what we learned:
- Zynga’s games traditionally focus on players that want to decorate and express themselves. Hidden Chronicles has elements of that, but it’s mainly focused on attracting a new audience of players that want a challenge.
- The hidden object game market is huge. There are already a lot of hidden object games, like Playdom’s Gardens of Time. There are a lot of games that PC players typically download to play instead of playing online.
- Zynga still wants to have something for everyone in Hidden Chronicles. It’s pulled elements from a lot of other games like CastleVille. One feature — the locked objects on the board called “gloom” — was actually added last-second because it was so popular in CastleVille.
- Zynga has a huge cross-promotional marketing system, but it’s still targeted. For example, Zynga might not want to promote Hidden Chronicles in Mafia Wars 2, because they’re different audiences.
- Zynga’s vibe is still pretty similar to how it was before it went public. Not much has changed for game developers in the company, Ely said.
BUSINESS INSIDER: Why focus on a hidden object games?
Cara Ely: For PC download, the hidden object market is a very robust market, It’s a lot of players, it’s one of the most beloved genres for casual PC download games. We knew the players were there. Coming from that world and wanting to bring this to social, it seemed like a perfect match. We’re very much about bringing “play” to everybody. If you think about words with friends, people play Scrabble, we took it and made it social. Any kind of game you want to play, we want people to be able to find it via a Zynga game.
As a player and a designer, I think the soft-focused photo-realistic style is much more conducive to hidden object play. You’re seeing them over and over, to have something that’s immersive and beautiful and has some softness to it is part of the experience. We wanted the estate to reflect a little softer style so the two woulds could co-exist. That was one of the earliest decisions we made. The hidden object scenes, we take a lot of time sketching and hiding objects, making sure things are really integrated.
BI: Do you expect other Zynga players to play Hidden Chronicles? Or is this aimed at a new audience?
CE: Certainly there will be playing multiple games, people playing FarmVille that will love Hidden Chronicles. But it’s for Puzzlers, there’s a little bit more actual gameplay in hidden games and memory games. FarmVille is this rich, beautiful game that lets you decorate and express. Hidden Chronicles will appeal to players that want to solve a mystery and it takes a little more skill.
With the actual demographic there will be a lot of crossover. One person might want to decorate their farms while another person might be a little more competitive in nature. It all goes back to make games for everyone, everywhere. I certainly think people who are currently playing hidden object on PC download, they’ll play hidden chronicles and it will be a way to introduce them to the decorations nd expression elements. This is a way to introduce people playing castle and farm to hidden object play.
BI: Will you cross-promote it like your other games?
CE: In terms of marketing cross-promo, there will definitely be some of that. We’re treating this game like any other game launch. You’ll see some promotion in our other game. There isn’t a one-size fits all approach for us. I think, for example, for Hidden Chronicles I’m not sure we would necessarily promote that with Mafia Wars. The demographic is probably not a great fit.
Why would anyone want to pay when they play this game?CE: As all the games, it’s free to play. If people want to progress more quickly, they can pay to do so. People who play hidden object love hidden object scenes. You might be at the beginning of the game and say I want to see every single one of these scenes. Certainly you can pay to unlock every scene the first time you launch the game. The core gameplay is hidden object. In terms of what people to pay to see more quickly, it’s the scenes. There are objects too, that you need to be a certain level to unlock, but they could pay to speed up and see that faster.
BI: How’s the vibe at Zynga? Is it the same as before the IPO or different?
CE: It’s definitely the same. At least from my perspective in designing and building the game. We’re treating this the same as we would any other launch. There’s so much focus on getting it right and making it fun. For me, I’ve just been very heads down and very focused in the game. Everyone wants the games, everyone in the team is very focused on making it. I don’t feel like it’s anything different.
It’s really important for us to get it right out of the gate, which is why we’re taking a little more time. You immediately notice that there was an element of gloom and exploration, and that wasn’t in earlier versions of the game. But because of CastleVille feedback, which launched in November, we incorporated that because it was something our players really like. Constantly learning and evolving our other games.