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Digital farmers can rejoice around the world. Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), the world’s leading provider of social game services, announced the global launch of the sequel to its smash hit FarmVille.
On Wednesday, the company unveiled FarmVille 2. “The FarmVille franchise brought social games into mainstream consciousness, and we’re proud to launch a new chapter in the FarmVille legacy,” said Tim LeTourneau, vice president of games at Zynga, in a press release. “FarmVille 2 offers players a new way to farm by delivering an immersive experience, rich characters, and new social features that make game boards come to life with their friends. We can’t wait to see the farms that players create. We also want dedicated players of FarmVille to know that we remain fully committed to bringing them new reasons to play the original game they love.”
The new game is Zynga’s first next-generation social game that is built entirely in 3D, providing new visuals and animations for those seeking to grow and harvest digital crops and raise animated animals. FarmVille 2 is available in 16 languages, which makes it the first game from the company to be offered outside of English. It is also the first game by Zynga to be developed for Adobe’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) Flash Player 11 utilizing Stage 3D technology.
Zynga is expected to roll out wider marketing for the new game in a few weeks, but it may already be too late for the company. The original FarmVille was a huge hit on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) when it debuted in 2009. However, more players have shifted towards mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets such as the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad. FarmVille is still Zynga’s highest revenue generating game, but growth has slowed dramatically. The number of users playing FarmVille reached as high as 34 million, but has plunged to roughly 18 million.
Earnings for Zynga have also taken a plunge. For the most recent quarter, the company reported net earnings of just 1 cent per share, based on revenue of $332 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 6 cents per share on revenue of $344 million. Despite going public at a price of $10 a share last December, Zynga’s stock price has plummeted as problems mount at the company. Shares are down nearly 70 percent this year, and hit as low as $2.66 in early August. Unless the new FarmVille recaptures the interest of millions of gamers, it looks to be a long hard road for Zynga shareholders. On Wednesday, shares managed to gain 3 percent to close at $2.92.
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