Zynga, the more-than-a-little-sketchy company behind the insanely popular Facebook game Farmville, is debuting a new product: Cityville, "Zynga's most social game ever." Great! Because what Facebook really needs is another blockbuster game that constantly encourages people to invite their friends.
Farmville! If you have an aunt, or an internet-savvy grandmother, or a well-meaning and motherly coworker, you are likely familiar with its whole "deal": You get to plant and tend to a farm. A virtual farm, obviously, but one that people nonetheless get very invested in—enough so that some portion of Farmville users will willingly pay for additions to their farms.
But the worst part of Farmville, to the non-user, is its amazing ability to clog up your notifications and your Facebook feed with its silly bullshit: So-and-so wants you to water her plants! Do you want to join Farmville? So-and-so planted something on her farm! And on, and on, until you just give up and block everyone on Facebook except for that one girl, and then she starts playing Farmville too.
So, anyway, it's dispiriting to hear that Cityville—which, as you might guess from its title, is basically Farmville plus Sim City—won't really be dealing with that. In fact, if anything, it'll be worse:
One of the goals when developing CityVille is to make it Zynga's most social game ever, Kelly added. "We even have more social interactions than we've ever done before around trading goods, sending people trains and all kinds of things that you can do to play with each other to grow your city."
The opportunity to interact with friends doesn't stop there. "In our game, you can even run a business in one of your friends' cities," Kelly said. "By interacting, I'm also actually making progress in the game and looking for ways to increase the number of friends that I can play with."
Doesn't that sound just wonderful? You "make progress" in the game by "increasing the number of friends who play the game." By, presumably, inviting them on Facebook, and constantly demonstrating to the minifeed what you've been doing in the game. So get excited for that.
And, most likely, Cityville will, like Farmville, have the same kind of sketchy virtual marketplace concept, one that allows Zynga to profit off of "an army of junkies and kids." But who cares! As CEO Mark Pincus told Nightline,
"I saw a lot of sites that had fulfilled, I think, the original promise of the Web for us, which was that we should get utility, we should save time and save money. I think we were ready for the next generation of the Internet," Pincus said. "If you think of this as turning the Web into one cocktail party, it's giving them something to do together while they're at the party."
That's right! The web is a cocktail party, and Pincus is providing the shitty, heavily-cut heroin, to the five-year-olds.