Facebook members desert Zynga's Farmville and Cityville

Millions of Facebook members have abandoned the top social games of last year, with titles like Farmville and Cityville losing up to half of their regular players. 

In December last year, over 10 million people were playing Cityville daily, and more than seven million logging on to Farmville every day, according to AppData, a traffic tracking firm.
But six months later an exodus has hit both virtual worlds, with June's numbers showing a drop of almost six million daily players for Cityville and three million for Farmville.
While other popular Facebook games such as Words With Friends and Texas HoldEm Poker have shown slow but steady growth in 2012, it seems that the widely-reproduced "-ville" formula, based on players making improvements to a virtual town or home and inviting their friends to help via the social network, has lost its charm.
The company behind the games, Zynga, was floated on the stock market at the height of its success in December and valued at $10bn.
It used some of the cash raised to expand, adding original new titles like Bubble Safari and purchasing the company behind Draw Something, a hugely popular Pictionary-like game for smartphones, for $183 million in March.
Since the acqusition, Draw Something has entered a decline of its own, losing almost four million daily players in three months.
Combined with Zynga's close association with Facebook, which has suffered its own share price fall since its flotation, it has driven the gaming company's valuation down by almost half. Its share price now sands at around half the initial $9.50 asking price.
Four of Zynga's games are still in the top 10 most-used Facebook apps, but it faces the same challenge from smartphones as the social network that helped it become a multibillion-dollar public company.
"We believe that interest in Facebook-based gaming may have reached a negative inflection point as more casual gamers migrate to mobile platforms,” said Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co. He wrote a report this week entitled "Facebook Gaming in Accelerating User Tailspin", which helped drive Zynga's stok under $5 for the first time.



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