Since its launch, Farmville has been the most successful social network game

Facebook may be among the most attractive destinations on the Internet, but there are several others entities that thrive on just being there, making the most of the traffic that lands there.

Zynga, which boasts of being the “world's largest social game developer”, is one such entity. Games hosted on Facebook ensure that its aficionados stay hooked to the site after they land on its pages.

Since its launch in July 2009, Farmville — a virtual game on Facebook and an application from Apple for its iPhone, iPad and iTouch — has been the most successful social network game.

Mind-boggling stats

Although players can join for free and are allowed “unlimited play”, they purchase virtual goods to give away gifts.

According to Zynga, which designed Farmville, the game has more than 16 million active daily users. There are more than 33 million virtual “farmers” playing the game, of which only two million are from the U.S. In the last 15 months, 500 million acres of virtual farmland have been farmed, 15 billion sheep sheared and about 20 billion virtual tress planted on the Web pages hosted by Facebook. Zynga claims that more players visit Farmville in a month than twitter in a whole year. Buoyed by the success of Farmville, Zynga has launched a clutch of other games, all riding on the “social gaming” bandwagon. There is Frontierville, which is a “role-playing” game, in which players finish everyday tasks such as gathering money, buying energy, clearing land, chopping trees, raising livestock and, eventually, marrying and raising children.

Treasure Isle, another Zynga video game, allows the players to dig for treasure on islands.

India studio

Zynga, which recently launched its studio in India, has announced that it plans to double its headcount in the country to 200 within the year. Shan Kadavil, Country Manager, Zynga India, says that since its launch in India a year ago, the company has been coming up with “new game mechanics, in-game features and creative elements to delight users across an array of Zynga's most popular games”.

Zynga India, Mr. Kadavil says, will continue to recruit engineers, product managers, game designers, artists and senior management to strategically grow operations. “These professionals are expected to have an eye for gaming along with experience and expertise in handling large-volume environments, graphics, networking, cloud computing and security,” he added.

Pointing that more than 250 million people are playing Zynga-designed games every month, Mr. Kadavil says the volume of data generated going through the users' computers and servers would be about one petabyte. “You would require 60 lakh video CDs to accommodate this volume of data.”

Business model

Zynga's revenue model is built on two premises. Although most games are “free”, they require “energy replenishments” for users to continue playing them.

Virtual goods and gifts, which can be exchanged in the social networking space also require to be purchased through credit cards. The other mode of revenue generation is through Zynga's links with partners.

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