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Struggling Zynga serves up ChefVille virtual restaurant game

You can't rain on Zynga's parade. Amid lawsuits and disappointing earnings, the game-creator continues to expand its "Ville" series with a new restaurant-themed social game.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
A screenshot from Zynga's new Chefville game. Zynga

Zynga launched its version of a restaurant social game today, boasting real-world rewards for virtual tasks.

As players advance in ChefVille, they unlock recipes that can be used for real world cooking. Players can also submit recipes to share.

The game is currently available to play on Facebook but not Zynga, yet. It's coming soon, according to a spokesperson, but no comment on why it's available on one platform and not the other.

In ChefVille, players build a restaurant by picking a theme, becoming an "ingredient specialist," cooking dishes and sharing ingredients with friends. The game features more than 200 dishes, and virtual restauranteurs can create atmosphere with VIP service and sign up for a virtual cooking academy for more games and rewards.

The company has faced myriad problems in recent weeks, including several law firms announcing investigations into Zynga for alleged insider trading; the company reporting a disappointing earnings for the last fiscal quarter; and Zynga competitor Electronic Arts suing the company. EA alleges that one game in the series The Ville is actually a ripoff of EA's The Sims Social. Zynga has denied those allegations.

Zynga's new Chefville, an expansion of the "Ville" series, is played in a similar fashion to other virtual restaurant games, including PlayFish's Restaurant City, which also lets users build and run restaurants. PlayFish was acquired by EA in 2009.

We're curious what EA has to say about its competitors' new game, so we've contacted EA and will update if we get a reply.

Zynga said the Chefville secret sauce -- adding in recipes as rewards -- will set it apart from other cooking games.

"We put our heart and soul into cooking up ChefVille for our players. Our goal at Zynga is to create the most social games on the planet that enrich relationships with friends and family for our players," Jonathan Knight, general manager of ChefVille, said in a statement. "ChefVille brings social gaming full circle. We're giving players a chance to take a 'snack break' from their day and connect online with friends, but also dish out real recipes that we hope serve as a catalyst for continued dining experiences with loved ones at home."

The game is available in 17 languages, including English, Danish, Dutch, German, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and traditional Chinese.