In case you’ve been living under a rock, CityVille is Zynga’s latest social Facebook game. It’s gotten over 90 million users in just 30 days. It has recently hit 100 million users. With Facebook’s population at over 500 million users, that means about 1 in 5 people on Facebook play CityVille. That’s just insane.

I’ve been meaning to take a better look at it. I played very briefly (a few minutes) early on, but haven’t been back since today. When I logged back in, I had no less than 54 CityVille messages of friends asking me for stuff or sending me gifts.

CityVille looks like they’ve taken all they’ve learned from Farmville, FrontierVille, and combined it with the very successful genre of city building like SimCity. But what has made the game hugely viral is that it’s over the top social.
In 10 minutes of gameplay, I counted no less than 13 attempts to get me to share some sort of accomplishment or gift with my social network. Although I refused most, I ended up gifting some friends and accepting neighbor requests.

Here are some examples of sharing activities that are built into the game:

  • Send gifts to friends
  • Share XP (experience) with friends
  • Invite friends to play
  • Share coins
  • Ask friends to open business in your city
  • Tell friends about my new business
  • Share town news with your friends

Another strategy they use which I think is even more effective is they require you to be social in order to progress. Here are some examples:

  • Rewards for visiting neighbors. This isn’t a requirement for progressing, but you get extra rewards.
  • Asking friends for things to complete tasks
  • Hire friends for city employees

As you get more and more invested in the game, you are more likely to ask your friends for help even if you were not inclined to.

Basically CityVille has a huge viral coefficient meaning that people who play are going to get more than one person to play with them.

Popularity: 4% [?]

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  5. Casual Gaming, A Force to Be Reckoned With