Pioneer Trail: Zynga goes West, again

Pioneer Trail, the newest title from Zynga, swaps a wide open world for a more linear path.

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    Pioneer Trail, a sequel of sorts to PioneerVille, throws gamers into a journey across prairies, mountain passes, and roaring rivers. Just don't call it the Oregon Trail.
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Zynga today took the wraps off a new online game called Pioneer Trail, a sequel of sorts to FrontierVille, and a distant cousin of FarmVille, the best-known title in the Zynga canon. But unlike FrontierVille, Pioneer Trail is more or less linear – players will march their "trail crew" through the mountains, prairies and plains, all the while dodging a group of gangsters dubbed the "Gratchett Gang." Make it to "Fort Courage," and you win.

Which is not to say that Pioneer Trail is completely lacking in the cooperative spirit that made other Zynga games so popular: "The Pioneer Trail places emphasis on a brand new social mechanic," Zynga reps wrote on the company blog. "Players select an intimate group of up to three friends to help them along the trail. This places a strategic twist on friend selection: players whose friends are more active progress faster throughout the game."

Over at Mashable, Ben Parr reports that Zynga is planning to introduce a feature which will partner new users with weathered Pioneer Trail hands, so if you've never made the "Trail" journey before, you'll have company. It's worth noting here that Zynga won't have the throwback wagon game market all to itself – a Facebook reboot of that old computer classic The Oregon Trail was released by The Learning Company earlier in the year.

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Still, Zynga knows its way around a social media game, and if we were betting folks, we'd wager that Pioneer Trail will eventually roll right over its competitors. (Forgive the pun.) In related news, Zynga this week revised its July IPO filing, upping its net income figure from $11.8 million to $16.8 million. More on the IPO can be found here.

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[Editor's Note: The original version of this article misstated the name of Pioneer Trail's predecessor. It's FrontierVille.]

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