FrontierVille, now known as The Pioneer Trail, is an “Invest and Express” genre game available on social networking sites such as Facebook. It was the first game developed at Zynga East, Zynga’s Baltimore studio, led by Brian Reynolds.
AC+A was brought on board provide design leadership services in the Cadence group, the team responsible for launching major features every two weeks to maintain player engagement and monetization.
AC+A worked closely with Zynga’s product management group, both on-site and remotely, to design high-grossing features (new content deployed as quest series in-game). AC+A designed the compelling Capital One quest series, a large-scale sponsored feature that had players interact with key characters from the sponsor’s ad campaigns.
AC+A’s most popular design was the “Romance” feature, a multi-week quest series that saw players arranging a wedding for two major non-player characters (NPCs), right down to baking a cake that, when eaten, provided an in-game boost to the player.
Several of the features designed by AC+A, such as the Romance quest series featuring Hank and Fanny, became three of the top five highest-grossing features in FrontierVille at the time.
The Capital One feature was deemed a success by the sponsor and the ROI for Zynga was quite favourable. Most importantly, players enjoyed the quest – quite an achievement for sponsored content.