Zoo World 2 Aims to Maintain RockYou’s Leadership on Facebook While Innovating in Zoo Genre

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By Pete Davison Comment

Zoo World 2, sequel to RockYou’s 2-year-old Zoo World, launched on Facebook this week after completing a 200-person closed beta test. RockYou CEO Lisa Marino teased the game back in April; at that time, the developer was aiming for a May 2011 release.

At this time, due to both Zoo World and its sequel being listed on Facebook as simply “Zoo World,” the statistics for the title according to our traffic tracking service AppData reflect the performance of both games. At the time of writing, Zoo World is listed as having 1,929,293 monthly active users and 353,789 daily active users.

Zoo World 2 is a game about designing and building a fully customizable zoo. Players purchase animals and facilities for their zoo and are expected to feed, care for and breed their animals while keeping the public interested in spending money with fun structures. The decision to make a complete sequel to the original Zoo World was born from a desire to innovate while learning from the lessons the past game had taught the team at RockYou.

“As successful as Zoo World had been, a lot had changed on Facebook since July of 2009,” explains Jonathan Knight, senior vice-president of games at RockYou. “One thing was really missing from ZW1, and that was the ability to really customize your zoo. People love building and decorating, and so we responded to the fans and delivered on what they were asking for.”

The customization aspect isn’t just for visual appeal — adding decorations to the zoo according to the various animals’ tastes makes them happier, which causes them to provide the player with better bonuses such as Hearts, which can be spent on breeding. Animals all have their own ID card, too, allowing the player to name them, see their date of birth and their “likes,” allowing the player to build up a personalized bond with their charges.

The game also includes a “save the species” theme which Knight believes sets it apart from similar animal games on Facebook. Players can build up animals’ “endangerment meters” by breeding them and releasing excess creatures into the wild.

Facebook Credits are fully integrated into the game on the monetization front. These can be spent on a variety of goods in the in-game store, including Energy refills; fantastic “Ultra Rare” animals such as unicorns and winged horse Pegasus; special decorative and soft currency-making items; fully-detailed habitats for the animals; and various other vanity items such as animated water features.

“We’re excited to combine all the learnings from ZW1’s monetization as well as the more contemporary monetization techniques from today’s successful Facebook games,” continues Knight. “ZW1 is very content-focused. We definitely plan to deliver this same ongoing content support for ZW2.”

Knight didn’t share any specifics about Zoo World 2’s immediate future, but noted that a big team is working on the game at RockYou. The company as a whole is continuing to support Zoo World 1 alongside its sequel as well as launching a second new game from its publishing division “very soon.” This game, known as Cloudforest Expedition, is the brainchild of video game industry veterans John Romero and Brenda Braithwaite’s Loot Drop studio.

“This has been an incredibly exciting 6 months for RockYou,” concludes Knight, “and the next 6 are going to show what we’ve been up to. Some people had counted us out of the running last year, and we are back in full force, and plan to be a true leader in the space. It all starts with great games, and that’s our laser focus!”

You can follow Zoo World and its sequel’s progress with AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers.