Zynga adds another name to its “With Friends” franchise on consumers' smart phones with Running With Friends. Inspired by the traditional favorite passtime of Spanish school children, Running With Friends has players compete to see who can be the last to be gorged by a pack of raging bulls. It is similar to other games in the optimistically-named “endless runner” genre, such as Temple Run or Subway Surfers, but with the trademark Zynga social layer, which they describe as “providing not-getting-gorged-as-a-service.” (I may be paraphrasing there)
The Face of Fun: Run for your life-as-a-service
You can run against friends, strangers, ninjas and clowns, and you don't even have to run at the same time to run together! Flummoxed? Let me explain: Through Zynga's own time-travel-as-a-service model, if you make a run right now, you will go up against other people in the past, or even in the future, and compete against their run, kind of like the “Ghost mode” in Mario Kart, so you don't have to worry about potentially game-breaking issues like network latency or not actually having friends.
Don't worry about ethnic diversity though, that's covered. There is a viking AND a geisha.
In Zynga's Defense:
This is a good move for Zynga. The company has been berated for a lack of creativity and innovation, and we've all seen the Nimblebit response to Zynga's Tiny Tower-as-a-service game, but their “With Friends” titles and Draw Something series are actually a direction that we're seeing interesting things in. Yes, Running With Friends looks like Subway Surfers and Draw Something is just Pictionary-as-a-service, but do we really have a problem with that? Starbucks' business isn't coffee, it's coffee-as-a-service, but nobody complains that Starbucks ripped off Sheik Omar. So let's all lay off the Zynga hate a bit, kay?
Right now, Running With Friends is available only on iOS, so if you're the only one of your friends with an iPhone, you will have to start looking for new friends.
Like Justin C. He always "forgets his wallet," but at least he has an iPhone.