ZYNGA the social games company behind Facebook successes such as Farmville, has launched it first standalone website, as it tries to emerge from the social network’s shadow.
‘Zynga.com’ launched in beta last night, and is the Silicon Valley-based company’s first attempt at becoming a consumer brand and destination.
Until now, players of Zynga’s games, such as Mafia Wars and CityVille, have only been able to play these creations on third-party sites – mainly via Facebook.
The gaming company makes the bulk of its revenues by players buying virtual goods using Facebook credits, of which 30 per cent of the money generated goes to the social network. This move is being seen by technology pundits as the start of Zynga trying to gain more bargaining power with Facebook, when it comes to renegotiating the revenue share percentage.
Reed Shaffner, lead product manager of Zynga.com, said: “Zynga.com is going to give us a more direct relationship with players…Facebook is not a home just for games.”
However, Zynga.com, the self-styled ‘playground for social games’ and until now codenamed: ‘Project Z’, is still deeply tied to the social network, as all players can only login using their Facebook account details.
The site, which will have more games, player-specific profiles and allow players to add ‘zFriends’ (Zynga friends beyond their Facebook pals), will still only use Facebook credits. CastleVille, Words With Friends, CityVille, Hidden Chronicles and Zynga Poker –are all available already.
Zynga.com has also opened up its platform to games developers, so that third-parties can create and publish new games on the site.
Shaffner said: “We needed to build a great home for our players to play on… a home for play…For us to deliver our vision of one billion people playing Zynga games, we needed Zynga.com.”
There is no mobile or app version of the site at launch.
Zynga failed to grow the number of its daily active players, according to the company's first and latest financial results since going public last year.
Despite reporting better-than-predicted four-quarter revenue of $311.2 million, the games company did not grow its 54 million daily active userbase – with the figure remaining flat on the previous quarter. This is also in spite of releasing several new updates to existing successful games and ramping up its mobile offering.
The company, which raised $1bn in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) last December, now attracts 240 million monthly active users.
Analysts have expressed concern at the stagnant daily user figures, especially so soon after its IPO.