Zynga’s Pioneer Trail Fast Approaching Manifest Destiny

Zynga is currently in the process of migrating FrontierVille players to a new app ID that maintains the base game as-is while adding on a Pioneer Trail expansion that functions as a separate game. After just three full days, Pioneer Trail is at 3.1 million daily active users while FrontierVille is down 1.1 million users.

Taken as-is, this suggests that the migration is going well. Players logging into the original FrontierVille can see advertisements for Pioneer Trail on the loading screen. Once inside, they are prompted to try out Pioneer Trail and clicking the “accept” button takes them to a game install screen. Presumably, this is where some FrontierVille users might abandon the migration. Previous social game sequels found that players were reluctant to follow through on installing a new app once they’d been taking out of the gameplay experience with which they were familiar.

Zynga, however, seems to be doing a decent job getting players past this hurdle by explaining the benefits of migration on their forums and from within the base game itself. Observe the “Two games in one” promotion from the loading screen below:

After loading Pioneer Trail as an app, players entering the game default to the homestead view from FrontierVille. To reach the actual expansion gameplay, players must click a Travel button on the lower right hand corner of the screen. While on the trail, players can return to the homestead at any time by clicking a much-smaller Home icon that appears in roughly the same location.

Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if total gameplay session time or sessions per day in FrontierVille increase as players attempt to interact both with the homestead and with Pioneer Trail. It could be that players only have enough attention for one gameplay type per day, or that certain players prefer one gameplay type to another. Zynga’s experience will likely serve as a model for other social game developers looking to extend the lives of their games on Facebook.

For more details on Pioneer Trail, read our review and keep your eyes peeled for the game on our weekly top 20 rankings sometime next week.