Game review by
Carolyn Koh, Common Sense Media
CityVille Game Poster Image
Facebook sim promotes friending strangers and paying.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about citizenship and the economy as overseer of an ever-expanding city. Kids observe how different city sectors rely on each other: businesses are stocked with goods, selling those goods creates cash, the cash funds new buildings, which, in turn, increases population. Cooperation between Facebook friends is essential. Friends can send gifts, staff each other's stores, visit other cities, and even open up franchise businesses in friends' vacant lots. CityVille's emphasis on fun and socialization gives it the mass appeal that niche city sims lack.

Positive Messages

In-game quests are all "assistance" type quests, such as placing Stop signs on streets after you build an elementary school. Players are also reminded that helping a neighbor out yields rewards for themselves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some citizens who appear in quest texts are authority figures that encourage the player to do better for the town by building Community Buildings and encourage the player to run for Mayor and then Governor as the game progresses.

Ease of Play

The game is simple, intuitive, and the tutorial is short and sweet. The game is played with simple clicks of the left mouse button, which does everything from selecting to building to planting and harvesting of crops.


This game monetizes by the selling of two different types of game cash that purchase different things in game. Players receive a pop-up link to the game store if they do not have enough game coins to purchase items in the game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A reward for an in-game collection quest is a tavern and another collection item is a bar stool.  Otherwise, there are no other references to drinking, drugs, or smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that CityVille is a fun building simulation game that is played exclusively through the Facebook social network. It's free to play, but also allows players to buy in-game coins to advance faster. The more Facebook friends that a player has playing the game, the faster he/she can advance through the mutual rewards of interaction with neighboring cities. The game also allows you to "friend" strangers and chat with them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byCommonSenseParent February 2, 2011

Fun and educational game is appropiate for all ages

My teenager has 400+ friends on Facebook, and she knows them all from school. Most kids nowadays have every kid in their grade, so you can play the game safely... Continue reading
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byMJones3422 January 22, 2011
Teen, 14 years old Written bypinktea4 March 12, 2012

Nothing bad but more for tweens

There really isn't anything bad for this game besides it's always asking for you to go make friends with strangers. There is NOTHING inappropriat with... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byjw1709 October 12, 2011

What's it about?

CITYVILLE by Zynga is a simple building simulation game in which you to build a city from the ground up, by placing streets, sidewalks, houses, community buildings, businesses, and parks. You also interact with other cities yielding rewards for yourself and the city you interact with. The goal is to grow your city and increase its population. Franchising businesses also yields rewards for both parties, so the social aspect of this game can be rather far reaching. Friends who play CityVille do not automatically become a neighbor but must be invited and must accept to be included in the social circle.

The social aspect of CityVille is also seen in the sending of free gifts to one another. Players can send gifts to their friends, whether they play Cityville or not. Some gifts are decorative, while others are essential for the completion of buildings. Some gifts, such as Energy and Building Permits, assist in advancing in the game.

Is it any good?

CityVille by Zynga is built off its success with FarmVille, FrontierVille, and CafeWorld. As a building simulation game, it can be used as a tool to teach decision-making and simple economics -- which trade route or crop brings you the best yield, or which business is the most profitable if franchised, for example. However, the game can be very addictive as it provides very simple action/reaction type rewards. Interaction with another city can reward the player with coins, experience points, reputation points, energy, and resources. Energy is the most important item in the game as most click actions require energy, including building anything, collecting rents, and even harvesting crops.

You gain energy over time and can earn it by visiting neighbors, having it be gifted, or buying it (with real money). In the early stages of the game, where a player might have only 10 buildings and farm plots to interact with, this is hardly an issue, but as the player's city grows, the need for energy becomes more urgent. Players will either have to create a large circle of neighbors or purchase energy in order to advance in the game -- the former can create privacy problems if players "friend" strangers.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about online privacy and staying safe while online. Why do you want to add so many friends when you don't know these people? Can the game be played without 50 other friends?

  • Families can also talk about the privacy features on Facebook that can be used to prevent strangers from reading their posts and seeing their photographs. Player might want to create a separate list, adding people onto it that are barred from seeing photographs, and setting the chat function to offline to prevent unwanted contact.

  • Families can also discuss actual city planning. Is it a good idea to build a Tavern and Pool Hall next to the elementary school and playground?  Why is it a good idea to have greenspace in a city? 

Game details

  • Platforms: Facebook
  • Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, the economy
  • Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, teamwork
    Communication: friendship building
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Zynga
  • Release date: December 1, 2010
  • Genre: Simulation
  • ESRB rating: NR for Not Rated
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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