Zynga, who basically runs the world of Facebook games, held a press conference last week in their offices in San Francisco. In this rendezvous, they talked about many of their upcoming projects and hinted at creating their own game space which might garner a little independence from Facebook. Their CEO and founder Mark Pincus was on hand to speak to the press about the vision for the future and talk about games and the future of play. Overall, it looks like they have ten new IPs coming out and they are showing no sign of stopping.
Perhaps their biggest game announcement came in the form of their latest addition to their Ville franchise. Castleville will perhaps be one of their biggest games in terms of the scope of the production that Zynga has developed. This castle-building mmorpg is being developed by Zynga Dallas. They were formally called Bonfire studios and created titles such as Halo Wars, Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. Since this team has a history with creating fantastic simulation games, this is the perfect addition to their portfolio.
The most notable difference from this team compared to their previous works is that the graphical style of Castleville holds true to what we have come to expect from the Ville games, colorful and easy to understand. In this new experience, they have created a stronger branching storyline by utilizing a cast of characters to help tell the tale along the way. You get to play the part of a ruler in the fantastical land and you will be able to create your kingdom and work with your townspeople whether it is growing crops or protecting them from the beasts that can invade your land. Additionally, the team in Dallas will be using a 75-piece orchestra and a full choir to create the ambiance for the world, which is huge for a game that is built to be played in 15-minute increments.
Zynga is also broadening their scope of the games that we play by adding a hidden object game to their CV called Hidden Chronicles. For this story, it will be up to you and your friends to solve its closely guarded secret of the mysterious Ramsey Manor. The artistic style of this game will be somewhat different that what we have previously seen from other games in that there will be drawn environments that you will be able to interact with.You will recognize many of the locations in this from real world places from today and from history all done in a beautiful painting.
If you are a fan of their casino games, such as Zynga Poker, you will be happy to know that they will be introducing a new addition to that family with Zynga Bingo. Now you will be able to enhance your casino experience by being able to go back and forth between the two titles and now you will be happy to know that since these are both part of the casino, all of your chips will be transferable.
Other notable mentions at the event included the use of HTML5 in their arsenal of development tools. This will let us have the opportunity to play some of their games in sizable experiences in the comfort of our own cell phones and tablet devices. With this technology, we will be seeing a new Mafia Wars game Shakedown and Farmville Express so you will be able to tend to your crops while waiting at the drive-thru.
The mobile team is also working on an entirely new game for the handheld devices. This is Dream Zoo. This animal manager will be their first zoo simulation game for the team where you get to be the zookeeper that you have always wanted to be. If you think that seeing pink elephants was a problem in your every day life, you will be able to have pink giraffes with swirly patterned spots on them as well.
Probably the most cryptic announcement at the event was the tease of something called "Project Z." With this they only announced that it is a game space that you will be able to play with other users using Facebook connect to play other Zynga games. One could look at this cryptic announcement as somewhat of an departure from their dependency on Facebook. Currently, there is a site available where you will be able to register your zTag which will allow your presence to be known in that new application. Also, when you sign up, you will receive points for their Rewardville to get swank new items in your Zynga games.
With another stellar year and a rumored IPO coming up, I think that they are giving the potential investors something tasty to chew on. Either that, or it will cause them to have convulsions in anticipation.