Can ‘CityVille’ Thrive on Google+?

Can ‘CityVille’ Thrive on Google+?

When a city is built, urban sprawl inevitably follows. The same holds true in the digital realm: Zynga’s CityVille, which sprung up on Facebook late last year, recently put down roots in Google+ as well. It’s an interesting move for Zynga, which typically stables its social games on Facebook thanks in part to a long-term contract that states FarmVille will remain on the network until 2015.

A change in scenery won’t hurt Zynga, however. Despite the company’s massive success with its social games, its overall growth showed signs of cooling over the past quarter. The number of active users across all its games dropped from 62 million to 59 million. Not quite enough to fuel alarmists’ claims that the social gaming bubble is destined to burst, but still enough of a dip to convince Zynga to recruit some fresh blood for its scene.

The question is whether or not Google+ is where Zynga ought to head for new CityVille players. In some respects, Google+ is a haven for spam-weary individuals who love Facebook’s connectivity, but are fed up with the crowds, the lack of privacy, and the incessant invites for social games. In other words, social gaming’s biggest audience is still congregated around Facebook, and they won’t be making the move to Google+ any time soon without some heavy convincing. Meanwhile, the refugees who fled Facebook in favor of the relative peace and quiet at Google+ probably didn’t break out the champagne when word came in about Zynga putting CityVille on the social network.

Ideally, Google and Zynga will aid one another and woo less computer-savvy folks who know what Facebook is, but still aren’t sure about this whole “social networking” thing. With the mainstream media latching onto horror stories about Facebook’s supposed lack of privacy and constant aesthetic changes that confuse and enrage users, Google+ has a chance at offering itself up as a user-friendly alternative. From there, Zynga, which already has a sizable audience on Facebook, might ask new Google+ users, “Hey. Want to play a game? It’s free!”

Given Google+’s gradual slide in popularity and Zynga’s own problems, now’s a good time for both companies to get a little more aggressive about recruiting new users. As for where game-hating social network fans might find some Zynga-free territory to hang out in…well, that’s a difficult question to answer.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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