The company behind FarmVille held its second annual Zynga Unleashed conference at its San Francisco HQ today. Officially unveiled were the ambitious Zynga with Friends platform, along with a smattering of new games, including two new 'Ville' games, TheVille and ChefVille, as well as a new 'with Friends' mobile game called Matching with Friends. And, right before walking off the stage, CEO and Founder Mark Pincus introduce a teaser for FarmVille 2, confirming months of rumors.
The new Zynga with Friends platform is the new name of the social network that has been live on Zynga.com for some time now. It essentially lets you connect and play social games with other people who like to play the same games (or any games) that you want to play, which means easier access to finding items that you need to progress in a game as well as avoid annoying real-life Facebook friends to send you Crystal Shards in CastleVille or the like. Eventually, as announced today, the platform will pair you up with people to play real-time multiplayer in Zynga games. Bubble Safari will be the first to include multi-player and Ruby Blast will be multi-player enabled in the future.
The other big announcements included three 'Ville' games: ChefVille, TheVille and a teaser for FarmVille 2. ChefVille is a re-imagining of Cafe World, where you create your own restaurant, decorate it, make recipes and share them with your friends. And, yes, while that description sounds almost identical to Cafe World -- the game looks much more polished and seems like it will allow much more customization of your restaurants and recipes. TheVille is a virtual people game, sort of a combo between YoVille and EA's Sims Social.And FarmVille 2 -- there's wasn't much more to see than a teaser trailer, in which we saw what looked like a very polished looking version of the game that included farming with less clicking (and the a new requirement -- watering plants!)
Zynga is also making strides on the mobile game side, and not necessarily with the newly announced Matching with Friends, but with its new Zynga Mobile Partners program, where Zynga will publish partners' games and then use the power of its network to get the word out. Some of the more interesting third-party Zynga games included: Horn by Phosper Games, a fantasy 3D action/adventure game that looked reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, Clay Jam by Fat Pebble, a game with a claymation art style in which you turn a pebble into a giant rock that picks up progressively larger and larger things from the environment (think Katamari Damacy but in clay) and Sava Transmedia with Rubber Tacos, a game that seems reminiscent of Cut the Rope (this game will also be available soon on Facebook and Zynga.com).
Last, but not least, there's a new Zynga casino game coming soon -- a slots game called Zynga Elite Slots. I've never personally understood the appeal of slots games, but they're always popular, and I'm sure Zynga's version will have that special spin that will keep people coming back for more. Above is a sneak peek of the Western themed slots game that will be available (among many other themes).
Stay tuned for more in-depth previews of ChefVille, TheVille and more games from Zynga's big event.