FrontierVille’s Wagon Gathers Pace

There's a snake in mah boot...

It seems that the hunger for Facebook games, despite the reported decline in users, continues unabated.  While Zynga’s FarmVille continues to haemorrhage millions of users every week, the new kid on the block is flying high.  FrontierVille, a pioneer sim, also from Zynga, is, according to Gamasutra, the fastest growing game on Facebook; already boasting over 13.7 million users after being launched only a month ago, almost a third of those users are reported as having signed up in the space of just one week. According to Brian Reynolds (of Civ 2 and Alpha Centauri fame) who was responsible for overseeing the project, the game promises to be more fun with a variety of compelling interactions.

Playing the role of a pioneering settler in the American west, the player has to develop a homestead, general store and ultimately a whole settlement village.  Keeping up the tradition of roping in friends, ‘reputation’, in the form of hearts, can be earned by helping other users.  In an interesting move, the player can now also build a family and keep tabs on more than one character at a time as they go about their business and there are pests such as snakes and bears to be dealt with.

The ‘real time’ nature of the game seems to play an even bigger part in FrontierVille, with weeds sprouting if left unattended and trees growing and eventually seeding new trees, meaning that any settlement, if neglected, could well look very different on the next visit.  With seemingly deeper gameplay, resembling elements of games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, coupled with the framework and general addictiveness of FarmVille, it certainly seems far closer to a ‘lite sim’ game than its predecessor.

Whether FrontierVille with snatch FarmVille’s crown, or whether the solid foundation of the former Facebook darling will stand it in good stead, it remains to be seen.  However, with users becoming bored at both the gameplay and the restrictions over land space in FarmVille, heading out West may be the only solution.  Saying that, FarmVille’s recent move to the iPhone, however, may just boost its userbase once more, though it is safe to assume that FrontierVille won’t be far behind it on the app front.

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