Both Facebook and Zynga, Facebook’s top game developer, have made some massive, far-reaching changes to their platforms over the past few months. Where most game developers have adopted the changes with seemingly little aggression, Zynga has made sweeping changes to their games in an effort to, as Gamezebo says, “make itself less dependent on Facebook.”
On the Facebook side of the token, we have the company’s attempts to make Facebook Credits the only virtual currency allowed on the site, whereby the company would rake in 30% of all transactions. In response to both this, and Facebook’s future plans to remove gift requests from the platform, Zynga has, to a point, blocked itself off from traditional Facebook features, creating the Zynga Messaging Center (which is, even this week, being rolled out to additional games in their lineup) to handle gift requests from within the game page, in addition to continually expanding their large email distribution list to provide general game news, as well as news relating to the progress of individual users (when crops are ready, etc.) through emails.
Even before Facebook removed third-party notifications, it seems that Zynga was looking for more independence. They launched FarmVille.com, where players can access almost all of the game’s features without venturing to Facebook proper, and they also announced a deal with MSN to allow much of the same from MSN’s portal.
Zynga is reportedly projected to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $450 million in 2010. With the prospect of Facebook taking 30% of those profits – no wonder it seems that the game giant is becoming uneasy. Where smaller companies like Meteor Games or Playdom don’t have the player base or monetary support to go it alone, it seems that with FarmVille containing, on its own, around 80 million monthly active players, the draw for the games may be enough to bring players with them should they move off of Facebook altogether.
This is a huge situation in the social gaming world, where most big names revolve around the Facebook platform – should the social network’s largest contributor of gameplay traffic up and run (this is admittedly speculative) what would that mean for the service that remains? Only time will tell at this point, but we’ll be sure to bring you any additional news about this situation, whether for or against, as it becomes available.