Zynga’s newest ‘Ville is sequel CityVille 2

A few months shy of its two year anniversary on Facebook, CityVille gets a sequel in beta form from embattled developer Zynga.

CityVille 2 is currently in geo-locked beta in the Philippines, which is the same region where Zynga tested FarmVille 2 several months before its launch. A brief blog post announcing the sequel declines to name a launch window for the game, but based on FarmVille 2’s timeframe and on statements made in Zynga’s latest earnings report, we anticipate a December launch assuming the geo-beta runs smoothly. As you can see from the screenshot below, it looks like CityVille — but with slicker graphics and apparently a day-and-night mechanic as this appears to be a nighttime shot.

The announcement comes just as the frenzy surrounding Zynga’s lowered 2012 outlook reaches a fevered pitch. The company’s stock opened trading today at $2.42 — down more than 75 percent from its IPO opening price of $10 a share. Two more high-profile departures hit the developer’s ranks last week. Over the weekend, our friend and former Inside Facebook lead writer Josh Constine over at TechCrunch ran an article provocatively titled, “Why Zynga Failed,” although the article stops short of actually claiming the Facebook games giant has completely flatlined. Today, we see that doom and gloom sentiment being reiterated by articles from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and AllThingsD.

Despite the obvious turmoil at Zynga, it’s still a far cry to call the developer “failed” at this stage — particularly if it’s still launching games and making money. In the rush to declare 2012 the year of another internet bubble burst, it seems as though many people forget that a games company is defined by its ability to release games — something Zynga has never not done regardless of what its stock was trading at. Plenty of social and mobile developers have actually failed in 2012 — as in shutting their doors, laying off their entire development staff and never releasing any new games — and yet none of them seem to register with an audience that was just so eager for the No. 1 Facebook developer to fall off its pedestal. Incidentally, it’s a pedestal still occupied by Zynga; our AppData traffic tracking service shows that the top three apps on Facebook by monthly active user are all Zynga games — ChefVille, Texas HoldEm Poker and Zynga Slingo.

For a bit of historical context, CityVille was both the largest game and app on Facebook in terms of MAU and daily active users for a run of more than 12 months. At its peak between January and March of 2011, the game boasted more than 101 million MAU and just above 21 million DAU. It currently sits at 16.8 million MAU and 2.2 million DAU.