Less than a month after its launch, Zynga's CityVille has become the world's most popular game. According to AppData, CityVille just reached 61.7 million monthly active users, and with that, the game nabs the number one spot from Zynga's other social gaming phenom, FarmVille.
This gives Zynga a total of 261 million monthly active users - clearly nothing to scoff at. However, despite dominating social gaming this year, the challenge for Zynga has been to continue to build on the massive success of Farmville and to show that the game wasn't simply a one-hit wonder. To complicate things, this spring Facebook changed the way game notifications worked - an effort to cut down on spam notifications. But as game developers protested, this move also cut down on social games' potential virality too.
This change hasn't seemed to stop CityVille at all, which launched Dec. 2 to what has clearly been a phenomenal rate of adoption. The game is a SimCity-like, well, city simulation. As with other games of this sort, CityVille is very social - you can build stores and operate franchises in your friends' towns. And as with many social games, this sort of interaction and obligation can be quite "addictive."
Like all of Zynga's games, CityVille is free-to-play, but users can spend real money on virtual goods to enhance gameplay. Industry estimates say that Zynga has brought in between $500 million to $700 million in revenue this year from the sale of virtual goods.
Time named Mark Zuckerberg "Person of the Year" and ReadWriteWeb named Facebook "Best BigCo of 2010." But the CityVille news seems to warrant a tip-of-the-hat to Zynga, whose games fueled much of the time people spent on the social networking site this year.
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