Farmville 2 (Zynga)Zynga is heading back to the farm.
At the company's Zynga Unleashed press event Tuesday, CEO Mark Pincus unveiled a number of new titles and initiatives meant to showcase the company's independence. Chief among those was a formal sequel to its breakout hit Farmville and a new entry in its popular "With Friends" line of mobile games.
Little was shown of Farmville 2 beyond a title and a teaser trailer, though it appears to feature enhanced 3D visuals and improved animations. The company announced it's working on it, but didn't mention exactly when it would be released. It didn't say where either, but Zynga's current deal with Facebook virtually guarantees the game will launch on that platform.
Matching With Friends, the latest title in that series, is available now on the App Store, however. This fifth game in the franchise is a match-three title, with many similarities to Popcap's storied Bejeweled series. Players must match three or more colored tiles, clearing as much of the board as possible before their opponents take a turn. Games last 11 turns and the player with the highest score walks away with bragging rights.
Like other "With Friends" titles (Words With Friends, Scramble With Friends, etc.), the game ties in to Facebook and Twitter profiles to help players find real-world friends to play with.
This week also sees the launch of The Ville, a game built firmly in the mold of EA's The Sims (which launched its own Facebook game, The Sims Social, last year). Players will create a customizable character and will work to build a dream house. And since it's all tied to Facebook, your avatar will be able to visit those of your Facebook friends who also play The Ville.
Zynga is counting on the games to offset what's thus far been a dismal year. The company's stock has dropped some 60% since March, though Zynga went out of its way today to reiterate its popularity. The company said it has 292 million users, including 65 million daily players and 22 million mobile users.
They're an active bunch, too. In any given minute, Zynga's player-base plays 64,000 words, draws 43,000 pictures, deals 38,000 hands of poker, opens 250,000 gifts from friends and engage in over 5,000 chats. Draw Something is about to hit its 10 billionth drawing.
"We founded Zynga with a simple premise that we could help people put play back in their lives," said Pincus. "We believe that play can become one of the most important ways we make new friends and enhance relationships."
It wasn't all games. Zynga also showed off an early version of the Zynga With Friends network, which is intended to unify the company's games across various platforms.
Whether or not the company impressed gamers will be seen in the coming weeks. Investors, though, didn't seem too enthused. Zynga's stock fell roughly 5 percent after the event concluded.