No Friends? That’s OK, Zynga Will Find Some For You

Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), the creator of popular social media games such as Farmville and Words with Friends, announced a new platform last week that will match-up gamers who don’t know each other, but share a common love of online gaming. The company says a trial run of the platform will begin later this month on Zynga.com. The New York Times reports that in the long-term, the move might reduce Zynga’s dependency on Facebook, and sidestep having to pay the social network a cut of game revenue.

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Zynga and Facebook have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for several years, with Zynga’s games providing 12 percent of Facebook’s total revenue and Zynga’s popularity booming to 240 million monthly users. With this new friend-finding platform, Zynga hopes that gamers will now go directly to Zynga.com to play games rather than going through Facebook. The company hopes to unite gamers on Zynga.com through their mutual love for gaming, unlike on Facebook, where gaming is just a side note.

Zynga’s chief operating officer, John Schappert, said, “If you’re playing CityVille right now, and you send out a request, ‘Please send me a cargo plane,’ it might take a couple of days for your friends to respond. You’ll be in a holding pattern to get that airport built. But on the platform, you’ll immediately get more cargo planes than you’ll know what to do with.” And it will be easy to see which friends, or “zFriends” as they’ll be called, are most likely to help you out because they will be ranked on their willingness to participate in the interactive gaming. The platform will also display each gamer’s favorite games, skill level, and helpfulness.

Zynga will maintain its relationship Facebook, and players on the social network’s platform will still use Facebook credits to purchase goods. Facebook will also still get a cut of profits, though the exact  amount is undetermined. Both Facebook and Zynga gave positive commentary regarding the announcement of the new platform.

Schappert told The New York Times, “They are our key partner, and we think we are one of their key partners. This is another logical evolution of our relationship.” Facebook’s director of games partnerships, Sean Ryan, said, “We’re thrilled to see Zynga use our login and payments platform to expand the possibilities for people to play games in more places with their friends.”

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To contact the reporter on this story: Ashley Cloninger at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com