Zynga is biting the hand that fed it by pitching “Zynga With Friends” as an alternative to Facebook.
The new social network will be accessible through Zynga.com, and players can build profiles, connect with other players and access a real-time multi-player mode for collaborative game-playing on platforms including laptops, smartphones and tablets.
"Zynga With Friends will be your social lobby wherever you are, whether on the Web or on mobile," said Zynga GM Manuel Bronstein during Zynga Unleashed, its conference this week for reporters and analysts.
It’s no secret that Zynga wants to lessen dependence on Facebook which takes a 30% cut of revenues generated through sales of virtual goods, and this latest move is a logical prelude to ending that revenue sharing model and starting its own.
The Zynga With Friends network, tweeted by Zynga during Unleashed as "a sandbox for social," can also open the gamer to a vast new audience. "If you think of the sweet spot for social games, it's probably middle-aged women and they're not all on Facebook," said analyst Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities, to sfgate.com. "So why not be approachable to those people who don't want to bother with" Facebook.
Zynga also debuted several new games including a new multiplayer game called Bubble Safari; The Ville, where players build and furnish homes and advance by pleasing the inhabitants; FarmVille 2, with more realistic 3-D graphics than its predecessor; ChefVille, which gives players a four-star kitchen to create dishes virtually and later at home; social puzzle game, Matching With Friends; and a casino game, Zynga Elite Slots.
"Social games have become a crowded marketplace. It's hard to sustain interest because you have thousands of free games competing for users' attention,” said Scott Steinberg, digital game consultant and principal in TechSavvyGlobal.com. "Loyalty is pretty low and churn rates are pretty high."
The company is opening its application programming interface to third-party game developers including Phospher Games, Sava, Crashlab, Fatpebble, and Atari, who’s creating a game to celebrate its 45th anniversary.
"Zynga is a major player in social games and has the ability to activate tens of millions of users. If it's able to bring some of that weight to bear for partners, then it could be a tremendously beneficial and successful partnership for those partners," said Steinberg. "You can have the greatest game in the world but if no one knows it exists, then it's utterly worthless. With so few opportunities on mobile and social to publicize yourself, having the weight of Zynga behind you may be very effective."
Zynga has close to 292 million users, 65 million of whom use the service daily. Its per-minute snapshot:
- Play 64,000 words on "Words With Friends"
- Draw 43,000 sketches on "Draw Something" (projected to reach 10 billion total this week)
- Draw 38,000 hands on "Zynga Poker"
- Open 250,000 virtual gifts
- Take 140,000 turns
- Send 1 million messages.
See how Zynga pitched mobile developers at Unleashed, below: