Interview: Zynga On Retaining Users With FarmVille's Lighthouse Cove
In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Zynga explained that in order to maintain users in its popular social game FarmVille, the company primarily aims to give users "more of what they love."
The most recent example of this strategy is the game's newest expansion, dubbed Lighthouse Cove. The new update, which debuted today, gives players a new autumn-themed farm set in New England, with new crops, animals, and buildings all based on the upcoming season.
Speaking to Gamasutra, FarmVille general manager Nate Etter said that appealing to users' existing interests plays a huge part in Zynga's strategy to update the game and keep its players entertained.
"For every content update or expansion, we do it with the sole purpose of entertaining and having fun with our players, and bringing them more of what they love," he said.
Etter said that by interacting with the game's users via forums, online Q&As and local playtests, the team can learn exactly what users are looking for and provide content based on that input.
One thing that FarmVille players particularly enjoy, he said, is content that reflects real-world holidays and events, and Zynga kept these interests in mind when developing the latest expansion.
"Reflecting the real world in the game is something we've found that our players really take a lot of delight in … Even before we had any expansions, we would bring fall and winter to people's home farms, and people really enjoyed that," Etter said, noting that the autumn-theme in the Lighthouse Cove update was in part created as a result of user feedback.
Etter added that even between thee major expansions to the game, Zynga makes sure to update the game on a very regular basis, to constantly give players something new to see or do, "We try to bring something new that delights our players every week, whether it’s a smaller update or something as big as Lighthouse Cove."
The Lighthouse Cove update marks the third expansion FarmVille has seen since its 2009 release. Zynga launched the first expansion, English Countryside, in March, and the Lady Gaga themed GagaVille in May.