Zynga moves into third-party publishing with new games portal

Zynga moves into third-party publishing with new games portal

By Rob Crossley

March 1st 2012 at 7:00PM

Dev giant steps away from Facebook with independent Zynga.com platform

The mutually beneficial relationship between Facebook and Zynga could soon become more complicated, with the Farmville creator ready to launch an eye-catching games portal that exists outside of the social network.

Zynga.com, which will launch in beta this month, will host a range of popular Zynga games as well as new content provided by external development studios.

The site will be available across the globe in fifteen different languages.

Social game developers will have the chance to publish their work through Zynga.com, effectively turning the San Franciscan games company into a third-party publisher.

Mobscience and Row Sham Bow are two of the first external studios that will have their games published in Zynga.com

“We’re inviting third-party developers to join as Zynga platform partners, to publish games across the Zynga network, and we’re offing development partners our technology,” Zynga COO John Schappert said in a conference call attended by Develop.

“Partners will tap into the technology and game development services that Zynga has built specifically for building and scaling social games.”

These technologies, said to be available later this year, will include various metrics services that Zynga has honed to improve player engagement and retention.

“The tech will help developers scale their offerings dramatically, reduce development time and lower customer acquisition cost,” Schappert added.

In return, Zynga will likely take a cut from the virtual items sold across its games portal, though the company declined to confirm this or explain the terms when asked by Develop.

Customers can log into Zynga.com with their Facebook account and, at least for now, will need to use Facebook Credits to purchase virtual items.

“We will determine what happens as we go,” said Manuel Bronstein, general manager at Zynga Direct.

Yet in what could be viewed as a new bid for independence from the social networking giant, Zynga will foster its own customer ecosystem that allows people to play each other whether they are Facebook friends or not.

Zynga will also sell its own advertising on the service.

The business model bares a resemblance to other open-web publishing platforms such as Kongregate and SpilGames.

Reed Shaffner, the lead product manager at Zynga.com, told Develop the company was “not trying to build a rival to Facebook”.

He added: “We’ve worked with Facebook on the site. We just want to give our players a place to play games.”

Zynga said it will remain open-minded in terms of developer partnerships. At first Zynga.com will be a “curated platform”, which over time will be opened up to more developers, Zynga said.

“We have to look for the best game regardless of where they come from. We want games in different categories. Games from different developers,” Bronstein added.