The second version of Zynga's mammoth hit FarmVille goes live today. The farmyard setting is a familiar one, but FarmVille 2 brings in new characters and new controls. Players can invite their friends—"Farm Helpers"—to pitch in around the their farm, and get rewarded with accelerated farm growth when they do. Even the animals in FarmVille 2 got an upgrade, the creators say in a press release—they now respond to being "touched," and like plants, can be grown and tended to for points. The game goes live today, and is available in 16 languages.
It's path intertwined with Facebook's-post IPO record, Zynga has been going through a rough patch. The company released dim Q2 results and cut back forecasts for the year. The company's decision to purchase OMGPop's Draw Something for $183 million has since been questioned, and the release of the new game could win it some welcome points on familiar home ground. Zynga's chief Mark Pincus has also talked about launching gambling games, with real money, and started investing in lobbying towards that end.