Playdom Reaches Out to Strategy Gamers With Verdonia

Another day, another quiet release from a large game developer. This time it’s Playdom with Verdonia, a strategy game that we found out about via Gamezebo, where you’re tasked with building up a high fantasy kingdom.

The game is, to say the least, an odd duck, especially considering Playdom’s lineup of straightforward social gaming fare. It’s certainly social — the bottom toolbar snaps open to a friend list, and a major component of the game is attacking, and defending yourself from, other human players.

What makes Verdonia stand out, though, is that it’s a serious strategy game. There are only a handful of similar games on Facebook; one called Evony, for example, recently launched on Facebook.

The problem, one might think, is that this sort of game is generally too complex to pick up many users. The most successful Facebook title of this type is Kingdoms of Camelot. It has just under four million monthly active users, many months after launching.

Playdom is almost certainly going for a niche gamer audience here, not your typical FarmVille player.

There’s a more obvious cue for gamers, too. Evony infamously went beyond the already-suggestive imagery found across traditional gaming with a set of revealing Google ads, a few years back. Those ads worked, because lots of gamers clicked through and then stayed to play.. You can see that this point was not lost on Verdonia creators:

But before we speculate on Playdom’s motivations, more about how Verdonia is played. On entering the game, players find themselves in an empty village. Literally empty — it’s up to the player to add in the various hovels, farms, barracks, academies and other buildings. These all require time to be built, but players can use a special fast-forward ability to instantly finish the simplest structures.

Building out this starting town serves as the tutorial. However, even this guided process could quickly become confusing to a new player. In all, there are 16 basic building types, all necessary, with associated upgrades; 13 units, which have to be led by heroes; 20 skills to research; four different world areas; and an assortment of upgrades, items, quests and achievements.

An hour of play will be enough to teach most veteran gamers how all of these components work together, but the average FarmVille user will probably feel afloat within seconds. Of course, Verdonia probably isn’t meant for FarmVille users.

A hint of this is provided in the chat window, which is also a rarity in Facebook games. Although players can join and chat with a guild at some point, the game opens up in the Global channel, which broadcasts the chatter of all Verdonia’s players. Many games have thus far avoided global communications on Facebook.

With Verdonia, though, Playdom is almost certainly going for a smaller, more dedicated audience.If a hardcore audience can be built for a Facebook game, it’s probable that they’ll also offer a much higher average revenue per user than the typical crowd.

Games like Verdonia and Evony are inevitably compared to Civilization. But that’s not a particularly accurate or helpful description, when you really get down to the details. The truth is that these games are a growing hybrid category of their own, created by through mixing time management and social features.

In that sense, Playdom is being fairly pioneering with Verdonia. We’ll be interested to see where the game goes; but for now, the company hasn’t even officially announced its existence.

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12 Responses to “Playdom Reaches Out to Strategy Gamers With Verdonia”

  1. Goodie says:

    Please explain how that ISN’T a straight up evony clone just ported to facebook?

    Its pioneering nothing bar how to port evony to FB, and incorporating a chat into a game, wait, hasn’t that been done already several times over?

  2. Chris Morrison says:

    I think there are a few differences from Evony. The “pioneering” part is trying to make that style work on Facebook. As far as I’ve seen, Evony’s app has not gained a great deal of traction.

  3. neo981 says:

    how do i dig for gold iron and chop wood

  4. Jack - Helpful as Always says:

    This is TOTALLY the Evony code with new graphics and some FB sharing code. It’s a game that’s been around for a couple of years. Please don’t call it a new game.

    The top game in this category is Grepolis.

  5. Andrew Li says:

    There’s a game with a small number of MAU that has a really good strategy game, much better than the likes of Evony or Kingdom of Camelot.

    Realm of Empires has provided numerous hours of intense strategy gameplay. Currently it only has around 45k MAU, but I suspect it’ll experience large growth in the near future.

  6. Geir Aaslid says:

    This game plays like Evony and Kingdoms of Camelot and Kingory for all practical purposes. (See Bruce on Games blog for more detail, there are more clones around). The artworks is new, but I am willing to bet the code is bought, reverse engineered or otherwise “borrowed” from the same third party source these other games are using.

    Its NOT new, pioneering, good or interesting for any decent strategy gamer at all. However the publisher hype is not quite as bad as most Evony ads.

    I hope this website is better informed on other aspects of social gaming.

  7. Eric Eldon says:

    Geir, are you saying that we did a poor job because we didn’t speculate that the code is “borrowed.” Please clarify.

  8. Mike says:

    Hmm,

    You are not very forthcoming on one confusing aspect of this game.

    i.e. how far can you get in the game without spending real cash.

    In fact on many levels your article is a useless piece of tat that tells people nothing.

  9. Barb says:

    Is there a way to send a letter to your guild members all at the same time

  10. patty56 says:

    can u tell how to play the game with half the page mising..this sucks ..big time

  11. Schrodiodo says:

    THis has to be an Evony port! Some of the graphics use for heros are the exact same pictures. When I started, they had broken some features during the port/dumb-down, but they were still on screen, like, building troops across all available barracks. then these disappeared from screen for a few days and quietly cane back working.

  12. Fuvas says:

    Why although i successfully conquer a Lv 3 rogue town but i cant find it in my town list ?Somemore it take me a space ….me now need baron to own 4 town…I really disappointed with verdonia

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