Zynga’s CityVille

Zynga’s CityVille has become the fastest-growing game in history. And based on an interview with a key Zynga executive, that isn’t an accident. The company has all but figured out how to turn its game launches into a science, and that helps them spread to increasingly large audiences on Facebook.

The city simulation game has drawn in more than 26 million users since it debuted on Dec. 2. In just 12 days, the Facebook game has broken all previous records, adding 4.5 million users on Tuesday alone. In the past seven days, the game has added 24.9 million users, according to market researcher AppData. For Zynga, that’s important because the San Francisco company often sees big fluctuations in its player base as fickle gamers move on from one game to the next. CityVille has surpassed the initial growth wave that FarmVille, Zynga’s biggest game, saw in 2009.

“This feels fun,” said Mark Skaggs, the Zynga vice president in charge of CityVille. “It’s like reliving the fun and excitement of the FarmVille launch. We are buzzing with energy about how to keep it going.”

CityVille comes at an important time for Zynga, which is trying to show that it can keep churning out hit after hit, by following a recipe that focuses on watching its gamers closely and tweaking games so that there are no barriers for adoption. If Zynga can keep turning out the hits, it can replace lost gamers and keep a commanding lead in social games industry. According to AppData, Zynga has more than 222 million monthly active users (those who play in a month). Just a couple of weeks ago, Zynga had only 198 million users, which is far below its peak from the spring, when it had more than 260 million users. Zynga lost a lot of users because Facebook shut down some of the most popular game communications (which were viewed by non-gamers as spam).

Founded in 2007, Zynga has become one of the largest gaming companies in the world, with more than 1,300 employees. Legendary investor John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said Zynga was easily the best investment that his firm has ever made. The social networking game maker is already the largest app developer on Facebook. And some recent valuations show that Zynga is actually valued above $5 billion. (Via VentureBeat)

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