Zynga: Higher frame rates lead to monetization

Zynga today revealed during its FarmVille 2 post-mortem, “What Grew Wild and What Withered Away”, that higher frame rates are often tied to monetizing players.

The talk was given by FarmVille 2 design director Wright Bagwell and creative director Michael McCarthy, touching on a number of topics like how the design team decided what elements to include in the game, as well as what things didn’t work.

Although FarmVille 2 got a lot of attention from press outlets because of its 3D graphics, McCarthy said the more important thing was the inclusion of GPU acceleration made possible by Flash 11 and Unity. This allowed for the game to run smoother on a wider array of computers, which was important because 80 percent of revenue comes from players seeing their games run at 15 frames per second or better. As a result, McCarthy said, the GPU acceleration leads to increased retention and monetization.

Additionally, the design team approached FarmVille 2 with the goal of making it a title that lasted as long as the original FarmVille (which is still going strong four years after its launch). “The question was, ‘would a 2D, un-accelerated PC game be competitive in 2016?’” he said. “The answer was ‘unlikely.’”

The decision has ultimately paid off. FarmVille 2 is still an incredibly successful title. Although it’s no longer the top game on Facebook (that bragging right now belong’s to King’s Candy Crush Saga), McCarthy said the game has 8.5 million daily active users. Likewise, Zynga is incredibly happy with the game’s revenue, as FarmVille 2’s bookings were about two times higher than originally anticipated during the company’s fourth quarter.

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