It's no secret that Zynga's business model is too dependent on its quasi parasitical relationship with Facebook, but thankfully it's taking a bold step to create a revenue stream outside the walls of the Zuckerberg estate.
Set to open this month
, Zynga.com will be a social games hub initially stocked with their most popular titles like Words with Friends and Farmville. The platform will feature full Facebook integration, allowing login through FB credentials, and allow players not only to game with existing Facebook friends, but discover new ones through the service as well.
The move is a combo punch, as Zynga is inviting other developers to sign up to distribute their games on the service as well. The launch of the platform will feature titles from Row Sham Bow, Mob Science and Sava Transmedia. The incentive for potential rivals to be there is an obvious one: It gains their titles exposure to the massive numbers of monthly players Zynga games attract.
All payments within the new platform will be done through Facebook credits, of which Facebook still receives a thirty percent cut. There is not much Zynga can do about this, considering the fee agreement is binding
between the two of them until May 2015.
The Obvious benefits
The implementation of an independent hosting platform is a smart one. It allows players to connect to more people than just their Facebook friends, as the service will enable native user discovery as well as a live chat system dubbed 'ZFriends'.
The attraction for heavy social-game players is obvious. As Michael Pachter put it, "What we're going to see is that the hard-core Zynga players are going migrate over to the platform because they don't want to spam their walls".
The additional benefit of Zynga.com will be to those who love their games, but don’t want or need the whole Facebook experience along with them. While the service does require a Facebook account to log in, the service will attract a larger market that simply wants to play their games.
The Hidden Benefits:
In setting this up, they might actually create a powerful social network in its own right. It is no wonder
that upon receiving the news, the stock price for the company rose more than ten percent to over $15 dollars a share, the highest it has ever been.
While we still have months to go before the impact and relevance of the new Zynga.com can be measures, I for one speculate that if they get the balance between user networking and title offers correct, we might just witness a massive decline in social game offerings on traditional networks like Facebook and Google +.
After all, if social gamers flock to Zynga.com because they can connect to more players, what incentive is there for publishers to distribute anywhere else?
Douglas Stewart is a staff writer at iQU. When he is not writing, he devours books, plays an excessive amount of games, and is working on his upcoming fiction novel that (naturally) involves intersections between technology, gaming and society. Follow Douglas @TheGearCog