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Zynga’s latest Facebook game takes Electronic Arts’ Sims Social head-on

Social game developer Zynga has announced a new  title in its popular “ville” series of Facebook games called The Ville, which looks a lot like Electronic Arts’ The Sims Social.

The Ville is a Facebook-based title allowing players to build and upgrade a virtual home as they interact with their friends. Gamers can plant gardens, take bubble baths, and even lure unsuspecting avatars into bed. Every action in the game depends on your character’s happiness, which only increases by interacting with other Ville citizens. The company unveiled the game at its Zynga Unleashed event today in San Francisco.

Multiplayer in The Ville is asynchronous, meaning that the other players do not control the avatars that your character interacts with.   While playing, you can check your friends’ real-time Facebook updates and comment on them without having to leave the application. Zynga also implemented its Ztalk system, which lets friends leave each other messages in-game about events in lieu of active multiplayer.

Jeff Brown, spokesman for EA, said, “Just once, can Zynga publish a game that they didn’t clone from another developer?”

This works in situations where a player has a meaningful interaction with someone else’s avatar. If you “make whoopie” with a friend’s character, you can then immortalize the event on his wall.

Many of the Ville’s core features resemble content found in The Sims Social, including consumable items, friendship points, and, of course, home decoration and expansion. Zynga put its custom spin on these functions, bringing over its signature avatar style and interface. While The Ville is reminiscent of The Sims Social, it has a much less intrusive menu design that offers a wider view of the playing area.

What happens when The Ville launches Wednesday, June 27 will be interesting. The Ville is so similar to The Sims Social that people who previously played FarmVille or CityVille might switch back to this familiar style.


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