If you are one of the estimated 354,000 users with a home in YoVille, it’s time to start looking for new virtual real estate. The game is one of Zynga’s longest running, going since 2008. It had more than 19.9 million daily users at its 2009 peak, but has been losing them ever since.
YoVille will officially shut down March 31. Players will get a going away gift to use in either FarmVille 2, Texas HoldEm Poker or HititRich Casino Slots.
Its small but dedicated user base isn’t ready to quit though. They have started an online petition to keep the game going. The game’s original creator, Greg Thomson, said he’s willing to look into buying it back from Zynga. Has the social gaming powerhouse created a new business model? Buy a profitable game, run it for a while and then sell it back to the initial owner?
Zynga has been the poster child for the rise of casual gaming, as well as how quickly its tides can turn. Buoyed by hits including YoVille, FarmVille and Mafia Wars, its valuation ran into the billions.
But Zynga has struggled to find followups to many of those hits. It has been aggressively seeking new kinds of revenue, including real money gaming. Those projects are already live in the UK. Efforts to do that in the US stalled, causing the publisher to abandon them.
It is has also entered into a partnership with BitPay, a startup dealing in Bitcoin currency. Right now Zynga is accepting Bitcoin as payment in games including FarmVille 2, CastleVille and CityVille. It’s the first major gaming publisher to do so.
Perhaps the biggest newsmaking move was hiring ex-Microsoft Entertainment division head Don Mattrick as CEO. He didn’t endear himself to Microsoft console owners during early problematic early PR for the Xbox One. Mattrick is performing a top-to-bottom review of Zynga, including cutting games that aren’t doing so well. YoVille, in its current state, falls into that category.