Zynga Taking On EA’s Sims Social With Its Next Game, The Ville

Zynga is unveiling the fifth title in its popular ’Ville game franchise — this time, it’s simply calling it “The Ville.”

The announcement was made onstage today at the company’s Unleashed event at its San Francisco headquarters by Mark Skaggs, Zynga’s SVP of product development.

The game launches tomorrow on Facebook for free, and will be monetized through virtual goods for sale.

Much like other ’Ville games, which challenged users to build a farm, a city, or an imaginary fantasy land, the point of The Ville is to create a character and build a home, complete with swimming pools, workout rooms and state-of-the-art kitchen appliances.

After getting a good glance at the game during an embargoed briefing with Skaggs, it looks shockingly similar to Electronic Arts’ The Sims Social, and frankly, at times, it is hard to tell the two apart.

The Ville Dream Home

When asked about the resemblance between the two games, Skaggs compared it to the company’s first ’Ville game launched four years ago called YoVille.

“We call it the house and people genre,” he said. “We wanted to take the fun we saw in YoVille and pull it forward and update it and create a new game in the genre.”

When pressed further about the similarities between it and The Sims Social, he said, “I’m not an expert on that game, but what I tried to do here is to create fun things to do with your friends.”

The Sims Social

To jog everyone’s memory, after Electronic Arts launched The Sims Social in August, it immediately threatened to overtake some of Zynga’s most popular games, including FarmVille and CityVille. But shortly after, as EA will admit, the game dropped in the rankings.

Today, it no longer ranks in the top 25, and EA has turned its attention to a city-building game based on SimCity, which recently launched in beta.

Both The Ville and Sims Social are considered simulation games, meaning that players mimic real life by building homes, dressing up avatars and conducting everyday experiences, like cooking, eating, dancing and sleeping. Both games have wacky life-like elements that could wreak havoc on real-life relationships.

For instance, EA’s Sims Social lets players have pillow fights and take showers with crushes. Likewise, Zynga’s The Ville allows players to make “whoopie” by lying down in a bed together — or baking and sharing a pie.

The real innovation in The Ville appears to be the way players can communicate with one another. Here are three ways:

  • Through a new messaging system called “ZTalk,” players will be able to leave comments on a friend’s game board. The technology could be brought to other games in the future.
  • Zynga will allow you to check status updates for your friends inside of the game. Therefore, if you see your friend is having a bad day, you can bake her a cake, or try to cheer him up in the virtual world.
  • Players will be able to take photos of their game boards and post them to their Facebook timeline to share them with friends.
Here’s a preview of the game:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus