The race to build the Facebook Gaming platform: an in-depth look at Zynga and SGN

Zynga Game Network“Games are the killer Facebook apps.”

“Facebook is the next gaming console.”

Social Gaming NetworkThese are the words being spoken by venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley these days.

A few weeks ago, Inside Facebook profiled the top game developers on Facebook. While there are many more developers of Facebook games that are growing in popularity, two companies – Zynga Game Network (Zynga) and Social Gaming Network (SGN) – are taking a different approach. Instead of just building games, they’re building “game networks” in an attempt to become the largest game distribution channel in the social networking world.

Inside Facebook, and other social networks, that means that Zynga and SGN are building their own “platforms within a platform” that enable developers access to 1) enhanced services like game news feeds and analytics, and 2) promotional opportunities to reach the network’s large gaming audiences, like the game bar.

Zynga and SGN have both launched their own developer tools and APIs and are working feverishly to build out their networks with the best games and developer services. Already, both have acquired smaller game developers and signed up many more. At the same time, Zynga and SGN continue to develop their own games in order to best understand the needs of the developer community – playing the combined role of publisher, partner, and distributor.

We sat down with Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, and Shervin Pishevar, CEO of SGN, to get a deeper look at what each company is up to.