If you take a look at who's playing what games on Facebook, the answers will sound all sound rather familiar. Here's a hint: They all come from a game developer whose name rhymes with finga' (I'm talking about Zynga, people). CityVille still leads the pack, followed by FarmVille and then Texas Hold 'Em Poker, aka Zynga Poker.
These three golden games have had the popularity vote all locked up, like, forever -- but if you look beyond cold hard stats, you'll see that there are plenty of newer games that you should add to your social gaming repertoire. Here's a list of three up-and-commers worthy of your time and devotion.
Gardens of Time
This hidden object game from Playdom is one of the first of this genre to arrive on Facebook and delivers the same seek-and-find puzzles (plus great looking scenery) that you'd find in a Mystery Case Files or other downloadable game of the same ilk. In addition to finding stuff in pretty pictures, this game incorporates some classic Facebook gaming elements, in this case, building your own garden and stocking it with artifacts discovered during your journey.
This game is free to play, but there is (like most Facebook games) the option to spend a little real-life cash as well. If you decide that you don't want to spend one red cent on this game, the key to prolonging the experience is to acquire as many Garden of Time friends as possible -- ones that will gift you lots of free energy (which is used up as you play new puzzles and regenerates over time) to keep you going as long as possible.
Play Gardens of Time on Facebook >
Diamond Dash from Wooga takes the basic match-3 collapse-style game and gives it the Bejeweled Blitz treatment. Kick those twitch reflexes into overdrive while clicking on sets of three more more diamonds of the same color -- as many as humanly possible -- before the clock runs out. Like Bejeweled, Zuma, etc -- this puzzle game is simple to play but difficult to master and you'll quickly use up your lives (one game costs one life to play) trying to beat you and your friends' high scores.
Play Diamond Dash on Facebook >
One could describe this game as the undead version of FarmVille -- but instead of plowing plants and collecting the resulting bounty, Zombie Lane revolves around killing cartoon zombies and collecting the rewards. A series of missions, such as kill X number of X of zombies, harvest X number of strawberries, etc, drives the game forward, but there's still plenty of freedom to do what you want, including smacking and/or shooting zombies at random or visiting the in-game market and spend your hard-earned coin to spruce up your property (and, adding extra fencing to protect your virtual self from flesh-chomping deadites).
Like many other Facebook games, you can play as long as you don't run out of energy, and when that happens, there's the option to ask friends to send you food (which restores your energy) or use Facebook Credits to buy more. If you don't like either of those options, you can click over and play one of your other favorite Facebook games while your energy refills over time.
Play Zombie Lane on Facebook >
Have you played these games? What are some other must-play games on Facebook? Sound off in the comments below.