Zynga, the social gaming company behind massively popular titles like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, doesn't need Facebook anymore — or at least not as much. The company, whose online games have heretofore only been available on Facebook, unveiled a new Zynga.com on Thursday, offering a standalone portal for gamers to access both Zynga titles and those from third-party developers. Zynga currently generates 12 percent of Facebook's revenue (the social network takes a 30 percent cut of every in-game transaction). Will this "revolutionary" step toward independence hurt Facebook's bottom line?
No. It helps both companies: You still have to use your Facebook log-in to play on Zynga.com, says AJ Glasser at Inside Social Games. And users will still be able to play Zynga games on Facebook. This is a win-win. Zynga gets to experiment with new games and features that Facebook can't handle, and Facebook remains deeply integrated with Zynga.
"Meet Zynga.com, also known as Zynga Direct, Z-Live and Zynga’s declaration of independence"
But Zynga has its work cut out for it: "Although it's a billion dollar company, Zynga owes much of its success to [Facebook]," says Patricio Robles at Econsultancy. Now, if Zynga attracts enough third-party partners, it could potentially "out-platform" Facebook and make itself into the ultimate destination for social gaming. But that's easier said than done. Why would rival developers put their games on Zynga.com — a site run by their direct competitor?
"Can Zynga succeed as a platform?"
At least casual Facebook users can rejoice: "Hardcore Zynga players are going to migrate" to Zynga.com, analyst Michael Pachter tells the San Francisco Chronicle, if only "because they don't want to spam" friends' newsfeeds with all their gaming action. That's good news for typical Facebook users: You'll potentially get far fewer annoying FarmVille requests from random aunts. What's to dislike about that?
"Zynga Platform could be a game changer"