Z’s Leaving Home: Zynga Expands Beyond Facebook

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Zynga raised a few eyebrows this week when the social games publisher announced it’s launching an online destination outside of Facebook – the mothership that nurtured its unrivalled success.

As it tests life beyond the great FacebookVille with its own standalone website to offer and connect gameplay, the beta version of Zynga.com will give players access to social games created by, for the first time, third party developers.

“We built Zynga.com to give our players more ways to connect with each other and play great social games whether built by Zynga or other talented developers,” stated Mark Pincus, founder and CEO, Zynga. “Together with our platform partners, we look forward to bringing more play to the world on our platform.”[more]

Initial beta features include:

• zFriends – Connect and play beyond Facebook.

• More Games – Five of Zynga’s top games – CastleVille, Words With Friends, CityVille, Hidden Chronicles and Zynga Poker – will be accessible on the site at launch with more coming soon.

• Social Stream – Real-time access to items needed to advance faster in games by posting to Zynga’s live social stream without ever leaving your game board.

• Player Profile – A profile about the way you play, highlighting your favorite games, top zFriends, recent activity and your helpfulness score.

• Live Chat – Chat with zFriends real-time to send gifts and strategize. 

• Multi-language support – Zynga.com will launch in 16 languages, including: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Indonesian, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai.

As for how Facebook is taking the news that its resident gaming guru (and virtual breadwinner) is expanding beyond its confines, a revenue-sharing agreement with Facebook through May 2015 stipulates a fee of up to 30% of the face value of user purchases in Zynga’s games on its network through Facebook’s Credits payment system.

Facebook drew 12% of its 2011 revenue from Zynga and Pincus acknowledges the ties that bind: “In 2007 Facebook changed the game with their courageous move to open their platform to us all. We’re proud to be a part of Facebook’s ecosystem and we built Zynga.com to complement their pervasive social graph. Zynga.com will be one of the first sites completely integrated with Facebook which has become the world’s social dial-tone.”

Facebook acknowledged the symbiosis in its IPO filing last month: “Zynga’s apps generate a significant number of pages on which we display ads from other advertisers. If the use of Zynga games on our Platform declines, if Zynga launches games on or migrates games to competing platforms, or if we fail to maintain good relations with Zynga, we may lose Zynga as a significant Platform developer and our financial results may be adversely affected.”

Zynga is working with three launch partners, reports Wired UK: inFamous Anarchy developer Mob Science, Montréal start-up Sava Transmedia and Row Sham Bow, creator of cartoon strategy game Woodland Heroes.

“As an independent game developer, we have faced significant challenges in getting players to discover our games,” stated Michael Witz, CEO of Mob Science. “The Zynga Platform provides an unparalleled opportunity by letting us focus on building a game that can easily be enjoyed by the millions of people on Zynga’s network who already love to play social games.”

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