[Editor’s note: Zynga launched CityVille on Facebook at the beginning of the month, an ambitious move to help the company grow beyond FarmVille and other older hits. We’ll examine what’s making it a hit in the article below, but the larger point it seems to show is this: after a slow year for many of the larger developers, massive and fast growth is still possible on Facebook’s platform.]
If CityVille were an actual city, it would now be the world’s second largest. Zynga’s newest game edged over 22 million monthly active users this morning, just eleven days after launching.
It’s often said that the days of jet-fueled app growth on Facebook are over, a common wisdom that is invalidated only by Zynga, which also saw FrontierVille rapidly grow to over 20 million players earlier this year. CityVille is far faster than FrontierVille; in June, when the latter was only 12 days old, we clocked it at 7.4 million MAU.
In fact, Zynga’s claim just a few days after launching CityVille that the game is its fastest-growing ever have proven to be quite correct.
Even when Facebook’s viral channels were vulnerable to any use developers could dream up, Zynga’s top growers like FarmVille, PetVille and FishVille only grew about half as fast as CityVille. The quickness with which Zynga was willing to crown CityVille its best-ever suggests that it had a good idea of how CityVille’s growth might unfold.
The broad strokes are pretty visible. We can see four major reasons for CityVille’s growth:
Although all game developers now engage in some form of cross-promotion, Zynga took promotion for CityVille far beyond the usual top-bar ad network. Although its efforts did start there: in Zynga’s huge, 200 million plus network, CityVille is the only Zynga game (other than the one that you’re currently playing) with an oversized button displaying its full name.
More additive to growth, there has been heavy promotion between FarmVille and CityVille. When you’re playing CityVille, it asks you to email FarmVille friends and encourage them to play; when you’re playing FarmVille, your top neighbor is now Sam, a character that pops up a link for CityVille.