CityVille allows players to become the owner of a virtual city and to oversee its development into a large metropolis. The city can grow with various tasks to be performed. The amount of energy available increases as the player gains in experience levels, up to a maximum of 30 or 38 with the dam addition and up to 47 with the addition of the wind farm. The energy points are replenished automatically at a constant rate of one energy every five minutes.
The player can also visit their neighbor's city and perform up to five different jobs every 12 hours. This gives the player reputation points. The points provide the player with a free goods bonus and one or two heart requests with each reputation level-up. Points increase the amount of energy, experience level and coins bonuses available on a daily basis. Players can send other players gifts and help them in some of their goals. The main task of the game is to complete goals, which can be seen on the top left corner of the screen and earn City Coins. Players can also buy goods, sell goods (supplying goods to other players' cities if their business branches are in their cities), and produce their own goods by farming and shipping. CityVille initially had 80 experience levels, which was increased to 90 experience levels and again to 200 experience levels.
In September 2012, Zynga began rolling out CityVille Lakefront, the biggest CityVille expansion to date, to players Level 25 or above. In CityVille Lakefront, players can build a canal and a drawbridge at the same time. CityVille Lakefront gives players more room to build, more buildings, and new challenges. Players build roads and sidewalks to expand their current city out to the drawbridge, which connects the lakefront to the player’s city.