Zynga Announces Mafia Wars 2 as Traffic Declines on Classic Original

Zynga is unveiling the sequel to its 2008 Facebook game, Mafia Wars, today with an animated trailer. Details on Mafia Wars 2 are scarce pending a press briefing, but the game is expected to launch “soon.”

The trailer gives a few clues as to the sequel’s angle. There’s evidence of a narrative constructed around revenge and vivid depictions of violence that suggest a higher level of visualization than what we saw in the text-based original game. Mafia Wars is perhaps best known for popularizing the social network game mechanic of recruiting as many friends as possible to your “mob” to better accomplish gameplay objectives, though many social games before Mafia Wars’ time made use of this feature. The core gameplay loop involves players spending regenerative resources (health, stamina and energy) to complete jobs or fight other players to earn more resources, items and virtual currency.

Mafia Wars is one of few Zynga games to be offered on other social networks and games portals besides Facebook, as well as a standalone mobile game. The game was removed from Tagged and MySpace possibly as a result of declining platform performance or perhaps due to an exclusivity agreement with Facebook revealed in Zynga’s IPO filings. On Facebook, the game has been in decline over the last year, showing only a brief spike in activity thanks to a cross-promotion run with Zynga sibling CityVille run in late March 2011. It currently enjoys an audience of 5.1 million monthly active users and 875,734 daily active users on the platform.

We’re still not certain how effective modern social game sequels are at extending the life of a franchise, given that only a few have launched in recent months. We’re also not certain if the crime genre hasn’t reached a point of saturation in social games with rival titles like Crime City launching on Google+ and Kabam’s upcoming Godfather game looking to make a big launch on Facebook. Mafia Wars is one of the oldest social games still running, however, and at one point it was one of the largest at 28.1 million MAU and 7.3 million DAU on Facebook. If any social game franchise was primed for a sequel, Mafia Wars would be it.