Zynga is shutting some of its studios through layoffs, including Zynga Austin, which was developing The Ville, a Facebook game which simulates everyday life.At TechCrunch, Kim-Mai Cutler reports that “The Ville is being transitioned into maintenance in the company’s offices in India—the way Zynga sunsets a lot of its less popular games.”
And Zynga CEO Mark Pincus just told employees that the company was “significantly reducing our investment in The Ville.”
When a game is “sunsetted,” it’s kept running for current users, but new development basically stops.
This is a huge embarrassment, because The Ville was a big bet for Zynga—that it could keep developing bigger, splashier, FarmVille-style social games, and that players would keep biting.
The Ville was the big reveal at Zynga’s June game-launch event.
It never got a bunch of users. But it did draw a lawsuit from Zynga archrival Electronic Arts, which claimed that The Ville copied The Sims Social. (That lawsuit is still grinding through the courts.)
EA also named a former executive, John Schappert, who left EA for Zynga in 2011, in that lawsuit. Schappert quit in August after a reorganization that stripped him of oversight of Zynga’s game development.
So turning The Ville into a simulated hospice is practical move. Its player numbers are plummeting. But it’s also symbolic: a way for Pincus to signal the end of a lost year for Zynga.
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