Zynga’s FarmVille wasn’t the first social farming game. In fact, the genre got started in China. So it’s no accident that Chinese mobile-game publisher FunPlus is launching a new iOS farming game dubbed Barn Voyage. It may seem like one more clone game, but it has global ambitions.
The title aims to leapfrog titles like Zynga’s FarmVille 2 and SuperCell’s Hay Day with a greater focus on gameplay and mechanics, said Dan Fiden, the chief strategy officer at FunPlus, in an interview with GamesBeat. The game is the first that FunPlus has debuted since it raised $74 million in a new round of funding to propel mobile gaming onto the global stage in the free-to-play market.
“Our goal was to take the established mechanics and features of farm games and elevate them to a new level with an experience that was more tightly knit and customized to the player,” said Mitch Zamara, the lead designer at FunPlus, in an interview. “My favorite parts of the game are the recipes that you can make with things you grow in the game, the customizable avatar system (in next update), and the large numbers of quests.”
The game launches today in 14 languages on iOS, and an Android version will be out in August. The title is one more addition to a portfolio of casual FunPlus games that include Family Farm and the mobile Family Farm Seaside.
In the tradition of those games, Barn Voyage has more focus on an interconnected world of farming, said Zamara. You can, for instance, grow crops, collect fruits and nuts, and use those goods as ingredients for recipes. You can craft the ingredients to make foods such as flour or pies. You can sell those on the market to other players. And you can use foods to feed farm animals such as chickens, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and geese. If the animals are well fed, they can earn prizes at fairs, earning rewards for players.
“When you collect things in our game, they have purpose,” Zamara said. “Everything, like milk from a cow, has a purpose or multiple purposes.”
Fiden added, “One reason FunPlus has been successful in farm games and social-simulation games is that it has innovated some of the mechanics that are now standard features in the category. You can earn and purchase machines that take the ingredients in the game into secondary and tertiary products. What I like is that it allows me to express myself and build the farm I have always dreamed about.”
Zynga integrated these types of mechanics into FarmVille 2, and FunPlus wants to outdo that. It has 250 quests, 40 levels, and at least a month of active play time in the game. There are more than 100 recipes, and you can gift ingredients to your friends so they can complete the recipes. You can use machines to make yogurt, grow mushrooms, or created tailored goods.
FunPlus has funding from Orchid Asia Group, GSR Ventures, and Steamboat Ventures. Andy Zhong and Yitao Guan founded the company in 2010. It now has hundreds of employees and is able to do a global launch in many languages on the same day.
“What we are interested in is the convergence of the global video game market, both Western and Eastern, on the mobile platform with the free-to-play model,” Fiden said. “Western companies are adapting to that model, and iOS and Android are becoming the most ubiquitous and relevant video game platforms. That is creating opportunities for us. Reaching scale in this market is the key challenge for video game companies in the next 10 years.”
FunPlus has been working on the game since last fall.
Zamara said, “As a game designer, there’s a really unique challenge for me to create a game design that can be played by people anywhere in the world.”