Digital Chocolate’s New Game Zombie Lane: Innovating Within the Facebook Sim Genre

Zombie Lane by Digital Chocolate is a comical new take on zombie games on Facebook, complete with bouncy thematic music reminiscent of the Adams Family — and an innovative adaption of a variety of social gaming mechanics seen elsewhere, including farming and quests.

The gist of the story is that zombies have taken over the neighborhood. Players have to rebuild their houses to get their spouses back, clean up the neighborhood, help neighbors, find the dog and kill zombies. All in a day’s work or perhaps two. Zombie Lane is populated by stereotypical characters like Robert, the over-weight, slightly inept rent-a-cop who takes the player through the tutorial and later provides missions and tips and hints.

Players begin the game by customizing an avatar and killing zombies. As they move through the game, they learn to build and maintain fences to preserve a safe area, fix and upgrade their house to craft special weapons to kill quest zombies, grow crops for food and profit, clear rubble, clean up and expand and decorate their yard.

The game is about maintaining timers and visiting a network of friends that also play the game. A typical click for action game with energy required for each click, each action, be it striking a zombie, clearing rubble or harvesting crops, yields coins, experience points (xp) and drops. These are represented in large icons that spill across the screen. They will all be registered by the various stat bars, but players are encouraged to click on the items to fill up a “Combo” bar that then yields even more coins. Drops are parts of collections which can then be traded in for coin and/or xp , resources for building and crafting or specific items required to complete quests.

Energy regenerates every 1 to 5 minutes (similar to Zynga’s CityVille) and tougher zombies take more than one click to kill. For the lower level player, this could translate to two minutes of gameplay (15 to 20) clicks before they are out of energy and over an hour’s wait before they can again engage in any significant gameplay. Luckily, energy can be gifted by friends, gained through visiting neighbors at one per neighbor per day, exchanged for in-game food or of course, purchased with Facebook credits. Players running out entirely of gifted energy and friends to visit, can hire their neighbors for in-game coin to kill zombies and clear rubble for them.

Most items required to complete quests within the game may be requested from friends or purchased with Facebook credits. Digital Chocolate takes the path of micro-transactions in their monetization. Instead of having to purchase the typical $5, $10 or $20 worth of game coins, items can be purchased with as little as one Facebook credit, tempting the player who needs just that one more uncommon drop from the uncommon zombie to purchase the item in order to complete the quest. Even players who prefer not to pay for their Facebook gaming fun will be tempted by the SMG – a ranged weapon available at level one which does not require ammo, for only 10 Facebook credits.

In a single game, Digital Chocolate has managed to include a quest story line, empire building, virtual farming, collections, achievements, maintenance and of course the main fun, killing zombies with extreme prejudice — using anything from a shovel to a crafted flame thrower. They explode with a satisfying splash of greenish goo and a flying eyeball or two. Zombie Lane launched on March 15th and has climbed to 84,000 daily active users and 121,000 monthly active users since then, according to AppData.

Although the game is brand new and designated as in a beta state, it has shown to be impressively bug free. It will feel familiar to many players at it shares the same mechanics as many other games out there, such as Ravenwood Fair and CityVille, but it brings a fresh look and their own twist and take on the mechanics. This is definitely a case of innovating within the genre and with a promise of a steady wave of enhancements and content in the coming weeks, we expect Zombie Lane’s numbers to continue to climb.