Zynga releases Running With Friends

Social games developer and publisher Zynga today announced the release of its seventh game under the “With Friends” brand, an endless runner titled Running With Friends. The game should be available to download for free from the Apple App Store starting tonight and tomorrow morning.

Set in a cartoon-style re-imagining of Pamplona, Spain, the game puts players into the town’s famous Running of the Bulls Festival. Gameplay is very similar to Temple Run, Vector, Subway Surfers, and other games in the endless runner genre. It’s particular similar to the latter in that the device is oriented vertically, with the camera behind the character, allowing the player to swipe and tap in order to dodge obstacles across three lanes.

While it may be similar to other endless runners, Running With Friends is also adding several new features to the formula to keep it fresh. The social element of games has always been Zynga’s primary concern and Running With Friends is no different, allowing users to do as the title suggests and play with their friends asynchronously. The level for each round of the game is randomly generated, but players who compete with friends will compete over the same randomly generated level. The player who gets the highest score by running farther and collecting more stars, wins.

Another interesting twist is that players will go into each round with a different set of goals. Before the player begins the actual round he takes a turn at a slot machine, which will present him with three random goals. For example, in one round the slot machine will determine that the player can earn more points by breaking barrels or haystacks, and in another it might be more beneficial to ride the bull for extra points. This extra layer of randomness adds more variety to each round, and makes competing with friends more interesting since players are competing on the same stage, but with different added goals.

“One of the things we deeply believe in and spend a lot of time trying to improve at Zynga is providing choice to players in how they monetize,” Zynga’s vice president of mobile Travis Boatman told us in an interview. “If we want to connect the world through play we’ve got to be able to do it in a way that allows all of our players to play whether or not they want to monetize. In Running With Friends and other With Friends titles, we allow players to play for free with ads. That’s one way we monetize. The second way, for folks who do want to pay and have more content, they can buy a premium version of the game which removes the ads or, if they’re really excited about the game, they can pay for in-app purchases.” In-app purchases include customization options and gameplay boosts.

Running With Friends has been in development since 2012. It was developed by the team that worked on Scramble With Friends in collaboration with Eat Sleep Play, the developer behind the PlayStation 3 downloadable title Calling All Cars!.  Eat Sleep Play worked closely with Zynga’s design and game teams on the overall vision as well as built a custom 3D engine.

Look forward to our full review of Running With Friends soon.