Zynga’s Top-Performing Game? Yep, Still FarmVille.

Despite launching three long years ago, the Facebook game FarmVille continues to be Zynga’s runaway hit.

In the company’s first-quarter report, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday, it disclosed that players who dig planting and harvesting crops accounted for 29 percent of the company’s revenue during the period.

One frequently asked question is whether social games will be played over the long term, or if companies like Zynga will have to continue creating hits to stay afloat.

Since the company went public last year, it has been claiming that the former is true — the older the title, the more revenue it generates. In theory, that’s because long-term players are more committed, and therefore spend more.

Based on the numbers disclosed yesterday, that continues to be the case. In fact, all four of the company’s top titles are at least a year-and-a-half old, and FarmVille continues on the upswing. A year ago, it was contributing 27 percent of the company’s revenue; now it’s contributing 29 percent.

CityVille, which launched in December 2010, accounts for 17 percent of the company’s revenue; Zynga Poker, which is five years old, accounts for 16 percent of revenue; and two-year-old FrontierVille accounts for 10 percent.

Zynga said the primary reason that FarmVille’s bookings increased during the quarter was the release of new content in the game.

However, older titles don’t always perform better.

Mafia Wars is a case in point. Last year, the game was Zynga’s third-best-performing title, and accounted for 18 percent of the company’s revenues. But after the company launched the sequel, Mafia Wars 2, the game suffered, as longtime Mafia Wars players failed to make the transition to the new version.

Now the game makes up less than 10 percent of the company’s revenue, which means Zynga is not required to break out its individual performance. It did note, however, that the quarter’s online game revenue was offset by a decrease of $26.5 million in revenue from Mafia Wars, compared to the first quarter of 2011.

Ouch. That’s a lot less ammunition.

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