Zynga invades Japan with "FarmVillage"


It's the same... but different.

Zynga has used FarmVille as its first entry into the Japanese social gaming market… but it’s not what you’d expect – the new game features updated gameplay, new graphics and even a new name.

The new FarmVillage has now launched on Mixi, a Japanese social network partially-owned by Softbank (who just happen to invest in FarmVille developer Zynga).

It’s been redesigned for a mobile platform – but not the iPhone. Most of Mixi’s userbase still use feature phones, so that’s where the game is being directed.

And – really – that’s why things are a bit different. There’s no player character to clutter things up, a more compact layout to cope with the smaller screen, and – due to the region – an intriguingly Asian aesthetic.

…the phones it’s designed for don’t have touch screens, so the game now includes directional buttons for gamers to choose which action to perform (and where to perform it).

This is social gaming giant Zynga‘s first foray into Japan. Softbank invested $147 million in the developer in June, which was quickly followed in turn by Zynga‘s purchase of Japanese developer Unoh in August.

FarmVillage screenshot

I quite like it, actually.

This is more of a sideways move for Zynga, dipping their toe in the Japanese waters. Mixi boasts 20 million users – and those members spend a lot of money on the service, but it’s still smaller than four of Zynga‘s Facebook titles.

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