Zynga, the casual gaming company that accounted for 12 percent of Facebook’s revenue in 2011, is starting its own gaming site at Zynga.com.
The first games to make the transition will be “CastleVille,” “Words With Friends,” “CityVille,” “Hidden Chronicles,” and “Zynga Poker” in early March.
On the new platform, gamers will be able to connect with other players outside their networks on Facebook, called “zFriends.” Other social features include real-time chat, and the ability to post achievements, or to send gifts and messages without leaving the game. The interface shows a running tally of the number of players currently online, as well as a stream of who’s playing what on the right side of the screen. No one on Facebook is particularly impressed by their friends’ casual gaming scores, so a separate environment where everyone who is there is there to play is Zynga’s best idea yet.
But this doesn’t mean that the company is severing its ties with Facebook. According to VentureBeat, Zynga gets 90 percent of its revenue from the social network by recruiting new players through Facebook Connect and collecting payments through Facebook Credits. The company will continue to use Facebook Credits as its virtual goods payment system on the new platform, even though Credits takes a 30 percent cut of the profits.
Third-party developers will also be able to use Zynga’s platforms to publish games. It’s possible that Zynga could take an additional cut, but Zynga COO John Schappert told TechCrunch that terms with these developers were negotiated and private.
“We’ve been a web/game company delivering content to our players and developing our own internal infrastructure and technology. And now we’re transforming into a gaming and platform company,” Schappert told VentureBeat. “We’ve listened to our players, to what they want from social gaming. They want a place where they can play together, they want a place that curates and delivers the best new social games for them, where they’ll always have a friend to play with.”