Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Clampett Alert! Zynga Launches First Original Online Game: FrontierVille.

The fast-growing social games start-up, Zynga–which recently penned distribution deals with Facebook and Yahoo (YHOO)–rolled out its first original online game today, called FrontierVille.

According to the San Francisco-based Zynga, most social games are iterations on other games already out there. Its flagship game, FarmVille, for example, wasn’t the first farm game.

The Wild West-themed FrontierVille is also the first game from well-known game designer Brian Reynolds, who has previously created Rise of Nations, Civilization II and others.

“FrontierVille is Oregon Trail meets Little House on the Prairie meets FarmVille,” said Reynolds in a statement about the game, where you start with a covered wagon and a plot of land.

There are also varmints to rassle with.

Someone go down to the cement pond to fetch Granny, Elly Mae and Jethro, stat!

Here is a video from Zynga about FrontierVille, as well as some screenshots:


And here is the official press release:


FrontierVille Invites Users to Tame the Wilderness, Grow a Family, and Build a Thriving Frontier Town

SAN FRANCISCO–June 9, 2010–Zynga today announced the launch of FrontierVille, a wild west-themed social game that allows users to tame the wilderness, grow a family, and build a thriving frontier town. The debut of FrontierVille comes on the heels of the recently launched Treasure Isle that quickly became the fastest growing Facebook application of all time and one of Zynga’s most popular games with 25 million daily active users. FrontierVille launches on Facebook today at http://apps.facebook.com/frontierville/.

FrontierVille introduces a new western theme to the Zynga family and leads a new generation of social games by introducing new features including multiple avatars on a single screen under one player’s control. For the first time, Zynga is introducing virtual families allowing players to customize a spouse and raise a virtual family. Additionally, FrontierVille, the first game from the Zynga East studios, is a “living world,” where players contend with wildlife encounters, varying weather, and vegetation growth.

“FrontierVille gives users creative new ways to connect with people around the world while bringing out the pioneering spirit in all of us,” said Brian Reynolds, Zynga’s chief game designer who led the development of FrontierVille. “FrontierVille is Oregon Trail meets Little House on the Prairie meets FarmVille.”

Beginning with a covered wagon and a plot of land, FrontierVille players are challenged to tame the wilderness, explore the wild West and establish a homestead with friends and family. FrontierVille game features include:

Family: Raise your own fantasy frontier family. Customize your make-believe spouse, and watch your little kiddies grow up. You can always change your own pioneer avatar, and you can move all the members of your family around for work and adventures.

Crops: After you’ve cleared enough land, it’s time to plant some crops and trees. Buy seeds and trees in the marketplace. Be careful to not let your crops wither as they become worthless, but don’t worry, your neighbors can always revive your crops if they wither. Harvested crops yield extra coin, food, and experience points.

Varmints: The wilderness is filled with dangerous vermin. Snakes, groundhogs, and bears lurk behind trees, rocks, and tall grass. You’ll have to attack or chase these varmints off your homestead.

Neighbors: Add friends as your neighbors to help you chop trees and build your log cabin. You can also hire your neighbors to get work done quickly.

Reputation: Being a good neighbor to your fellow pioneers earns you hearts. As you gain more hearts, or points, your reputation level increases. A good reputation makes you more useful to friends to hire you.

Today’s FrontierVille game launch along with Zynga’s recently announced partnerships with Facebook and Yahoo! continues to extend the company’s footprint worldwide, creating more opportunities for Zynga to connect the world through games. Recent acquisitions of XPD Media and Challenge Games established new Zynga game studios in Beijing and Austin.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work