A mid-morning tweet from Playdom directed us to a new Playdom.com games portal where two of its games are playable without the use of Facebook, MySpace, or other platforms. As with Zynga’s FarmVille.com, Playdom appears to be experimenting with running games in an environment that it controls — without the requirements that come with the Facebook platform, such as using Credits as the exclusive paid currency in games.
At the moment, only Wild Ones and City of Wonder are available on Playdom.com as completely independent playable experiences. The developer’s other titles, ESPNU College Town, Social City, Bola, Market Street, Sorority Life, Mobsters, World Series of Poker, Gardens of Time and Deep Realms, are linked to their existing platforms through a Playdom.com landing page (the long-standing format for the site).
Note that Playdom games aren’t pure cross-platform play experiences where you can keep a consistent game running between Facebook and MySpace. In other words, a Facebook Wild Ones player looking to migrate to a Playdom.com hosted game would have to start the game over completely and register for a Playdom.com account. This will likely impact players using the mobile version of games that allow for light cross platform play between iOS/Android and Facebook/MySpace in a similar fashion.
Regarding Credits, you won’t see the currency on the new site (although Facebook has only recently begun testing Credits for games off of Facebook). Payment options in Wild Ones and City of Wonder include Tapjoy’s offer wall, credit card, PayPal, Ultimate Game Card, Amazon Payments, Coinstar, prepaid cards, or pay-by-mobile with Zong and Paymo.
It could be that Playdom plans to add its entire games catalog to Playdom.com in the coming months. If so, it and Zynga have similar ideas about breaking away from Facebook to form their own social games networks. Zynga has most prominently been pursuing this idea with a reported $500 million round of funding closing ahead of plans to launch Zynga Live sometime this year. In the last few weeks, the FarmVille developer already introduced an in-game virtual currency system outside of Facebook in the form of RewardVille and earlier this week it added a Fan Army site, which could be used as an infrastructure for Zynga Live user profiles.
With Facebook Credits becoming mandatory for all social games by July, many social game developers are being forced to end existing relationships with payment service providers. As evidenced by the laundry list of ways you can pay for things in Wild Ones and City of Wonder, Playdom can maintain its current pay systems through its own site. Another added benefit of running its own show is that Playdom can make payment options available to parents of younger players in a way that Facebook cannot. This could be a crucial connection for Playdom to make, being that parent company Disney’s audience tends to skew toward a younger demographic with limited access to money.
As of press time, the company hasn’t responded to request for comment on the long-term plan for Playdom.com.