Looks aren’t everything for a game — but they certainly do help.
Zynga’s games, which at first were little more than a collection of menus, now sport some impressively good-looking graphics.
And despite large graphical improvements, the company’s newest games still run just as smoothly as its earliest. That’s quite a testament to Zynga, which is still basically running its games in a Flash-powered environment.
There are a lot of limitations Zynga faces when building a Facebook app compared to building a native application for a computer. It’s pretty impressive to see them come as far as they have.
Release Date: July 2007
Players: 30.4 million
Zynga's first game, Zynga Poker, proves at least that looks do not matter. It's still one of Zynga's most popular games on Facebook, according to AppData. That's probably also a testament to the strength of card games, which have been popular for as long as we can remember.
Release Date: April 2008
Players: 3.5 million
Mafia Wars was also just a collection of menus. Unlike Zynga Poker, it hasn't quite sustained its popularity and has fallen to the way side to make room for its sequel, Mafia Wars 2.
Release Date: July 2008 (acquired)
Players: 2 million
Here's where it all started. Zynga's iconic artistic style for avatars -- giant heads, big eyes and tiny bodies -- emerged in YoVille. It was one of the first games to sport a legitimate animated interface. It's certainly starting to show its age, though, with sparse environments.
Release Date: June 2009
Players: 30.4 million
FarmVille improved upon the same graphical style that YoVille pioneered. It introduced massive environments with a lot of moving objects. You can build farms that have hundreds of crops, rather than just rooms with furniture in YoVille.
Release Date: September 2009
Players: 6.5 million
Café World took a different direction from the 'Ville' franchise. It sported a larger assortment of animations than Zynga's previous games with more moving objects, but was held to smaller environments.
Release Date: November 2009
Players: 1.7 million
FishVille is an anomaly in the 'Ville' games because it introduced a different direction from Zynga's typical games, returning it to a menu-esque based game. Rather than having an avatar and moving it around the screen, you would click on your fish -- which still sported a decent amount of detail. The tank backgrounds introduced a softer colouring style that would appear again in later games like Adventure World.
Release Date: December 2009
Players: 2.9 million
PetVille is another weird anomaly in the 'Ville' franchise in terms of the artistic direction. But it's still a step up from Zynga's previous games and included a lot of on-screen animations -- like fireworks and lots of moving screens.
Release Date: April 2010
Players: 2.1 million
Treasure Isle adopted a similar style to FarmVille, but didn't prove to be as successful. The avatars are more or less lifted straight from FarmVille's stock.
Release Date: June 2010
Players: 1.6 million
FrontierVille again improved on the art unveiled in FarmVille. It still sports the same kind of exaggerated features -- big heads and big eyes -- but each avatar has more detail. But the environments are much more detailed, with trees and other objects you can interact with.
Release Date: December 2010
Players: 51.5 million
CityVille was Zynga's first radical upgrade to its graphics since the jump to FarmVille. CityVille's scale is much larger than Zynga's previous games and can include hundreds of smaller objects. The avatars all also look more detailed than they appeared in previous Zynga games.
Release Date: June 2011
Players: 19.2 million
Empires & Allies built off the same engine Zynga created for CityVille. It also sports a much larger scale than the previous 'Ville' games like FarmVille. This game has more animation than CityVille.
Release Date: September 2011
Players: 10.1 million
Adventure World introduced a new artistic direction for Zynga with cel-shaded style graphics -- which give a 3D look to a cartoon-coloured character -- and a softer, more blended colour palette. It's an Indiana Jones-branded game, and it sports a similar style.
Release Date: October 2011
Players: 17 million
Mafia Wars 2, a sequel to the menu-based Mafia Wars, also features the same cel-shaded style Zynga unveiled in Adventure World. It has the same kind of large scale that Empires & Allies and CityVille feature, but still runs just as smoothly with the updated graphics engine.
Release Date: November 2011
Players: To be determined
CastleVille is Zynga's most recent game and seems more like an evolution of the style originally pioneered in FarmVille. It features the same kind of exaggerated features that FarmVille avatars feature -- big heads and big eyes. But it also has very complex animations and the same kind of incredibly detailed environments that FrontierVille included.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.