Zynga is following through on a promise to bring its FarmVille franchise back to mobile, a crucial first step coming nearly a year after Don Mattrick was named CEO.
The new offering, called “FarmVille 2: Country Escape,” is a mobile app rather than a game played through a browser on a computer. But the company says it has all the hallmarks of a FarmVille experience: animals, crops and all manner of other items that players have to manage. They view the farm from a bird’s eye view, watching cows graze, farmhands fish and crops grow.
The game is being released for the iPhone, iPad and Google devices Thursday, and uses a similar model to its desktop game counterparts: Free to download, while Zynga will charge for additional items that help players move through the game quicker.
This FarmVille is different from other incarnations, though. Most importantly, Zynga says, it’s a separate game designed from the beginning for mobile devices–a first for the FarmVille franchise, though the game can interact and share various farm items with its desktop cousin.
An earlier FarmVille mobile version, released for the iPhone in 2010, was conceived more as a way to play the desktop version of the game while on the go. It was abandoned by Zynga after two years on the market.
A mobile app, for one thing, means that this version of FarmVille can be played when customers aren’t connected to the Internet. And users do not face the pressure in the original version to get other friends to play the game.
Jamie Davies, general manager of the mobile game, said Zynga’s aim is to tap into what it believes is a timeless franchise. “It’s about creating new hits and new hits on mobile,” she said.
Mattrick, who was named Zynga’s CEO last July, has repeatedly said he believes the FarmVille franchise will be a core part of turning the company around.
So far, Zynga said, it hasn’t heavily marketed the new game, though it claims reviews in early testing have been positive.