Zynga is about to hit the road for its IPO roadshow.
While the company was one of the hottest growth stories in tech for the last few years, it has been flat lining over the last few quarters, according to SEC filings.
That’s not the story you want to present to investors.
Enter CastleVille, the latest in Zynga’s “Ville” series. That franchise series sports two of the top five apps on Facebook, according to AppData. Zynga is placing a huge bet that CastleVille will help it recover some of the users it has lost and jump-start its growth.
I played through the game, and there’s a lot to like here. It definitely looks pretty, but CastleVille still feels a bit like a rehash of Zynga’s old “Ville” games. It’s a cross between Farmville’s farming, CityVille’s city building and FrontierVille’s Pioneer Trail questing. Still, it’s fun.
Zynga had 236 million monthly players at the end of the first quarter this year. That fell to 228 million users at the end of the second quarter and 227 million at the end of the third quarter.
First you have to design your character — though you'll have to pay real money for most of the customisation options.
He's a handsome bugger, isn't he? The graphics, which Zynga has poured a lot of time into developing, look great.
Success! You just completed your first quest and made a friend. You'll still have to invite another 10 of your friends — or pay real money — to access all of CastleVille.
CastleVille is driven by quests — most of which involve some kind of grinding. You can skip steps by paying real money.
You'll have to grind through those quests to buy better items. It's the same kind of grind you'll see in FarmVille or CityVille — click, click, click.
More of the game opens up as you level up. The first time you play, you'll level up just before you run out of energy. Zynga does a good job of keeping you on the game for a lot longer than normal when you first install it.
Done and done. You get larger rewards for completing quests. That'll help you get through the game a little faster.
Here's the shop — you'll have to play for a while to unlock most of the cool stuff. Or you can pay real money to unlock it right away.
Second time's the charm. You can complete quests when visiting your neighbours and then share your progress on your Facebook Wall.
You'll have to visit your friends every day and pick up those hearts — called reputation — to buy the best stuff.
About 10 minutes in, it'll ask you to invite your friends. It'll ask you again and again as you keep playing. You'll need friends to progress through the game faster.
Then it'll ask you to build walls, which are a huge part of the game. You can use the money you earn in the game or pay real money to buy the best walls immediately.
That opens up more areas to build and more quests. Keep building until you have a massive city and can show off.
You'll have to wait until your energy comes back when you run out — or buy more energy with real money to keep playing.
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