Zynga is preparing to launch a new slots game, bringing even more attention to the social-gaming company's efforts to become a legit gambling destination.
Zynga touted the game, titled Zynga Elite Slots, this week, following news of the company preparing to set itself up for a gambling license in Nevada. Modeled after the computerized slot machines glittering inside the dark casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, Zynga Elite Slots doesn't use real money -- yet.
But don't ask the game's Austin, Texas-based design directors, Josh Gause and Nathan Ratcliffe, when that will happen. All they want to talk about is the art.
"We've been very focused on this," Gause said when asked by CNET about Zynga's other casino games and real-money gambling.
"We've taken the visuals very seriously, and we've taken the sound very seriously as well," Ratcliffe added.
The pair wouldn't say how long they've been working on the game, but said Zynga has funneled a lot of resources into its development. Zynga Elite Slots centers around a traditional gaming story line -- collect points and characters and beat the bosses to level up -- but players' progress in the game is done by pressing the spin button. Players can collect various characters, called pets, along the way and unlock special characters when they level up. These range from the cute and cuddly to the supernatural and beautiful.
The creators also included mini-games, various Vegas-like themes -- such as a vampire lair, cowboys in the Wild West, an enchanted forest, and an Arctic fantasy land -- and added the expected Zynga social twist.
"In slots, a lot of the spins you get nothing, and ultimately, you walk away with nothing," Ratcliffe said. "What's nice about this is, I walked away with new pets, I've defeated a boss, and got new items."
Players play within a group and can help each other with credits and chat while playing. Up to 150 players can play in one room at a time, and progress is determined by a blue bar above the slots. The more spins the players contribute, the faster they get to fight the boss.
The game, which Zynga plans to launch soon on Facebook, will fit in nicely with Zynga's roundup of casino games. On Facebook, these include the popular Texas HoldEm Poker, which has 33.5 million monthly active players. Zynga Elite Slots will also be coming to Zynga.com in the future, but there's no word on when.