Zynga is partnering with Microsoft’s MSN Games site today and providing its hit game FarmVille using Facebook Connect. This is the first time a Zynga game has gone live on a destination gaming site, and the partnership will include more titles and game availability on Windows Live Messenger in the coming months. It is also the first of what we expect will be several examples of social gaming driving the adoption of Facebook Connect across the web.
FarmVille, with around 75 million monthly active users, has been the breakaway social gaming hit on Facebook. While Zynga offers its games on many other social networks, it has only previously branched out to its own destination sites, like FarmVille.com. As the game does on MSN Games, FarmVille.com uses Facebook Connect as its sole user identity service.
Between the games site and Messenger, Microsoft says it reaches more than half a billion users each month. That’s a huge number of people, and notably more than Facebook’s self-reported 350 million. Of course, if the site were already a social platform, Zynga would not be using Facebook Connect. Connect allows users to participate in the game using their real Facebook identity and social graph, sharing what they’re doing back to Facebook. Games can use the Platform APIs through Connect to communicate to users and their friends about games. This is how they grow, then monetize.
Another note: The integration with Messenger isn’t yet clear, so neither is that channel’s value to Zynga. Perhaps Messenger could serve as an alternate communication channel for Zynga’s games?
The companies describes the move as a way to bring social games to new players, but far from distancing Zynga from Facebook, this move will also bring Facebook Connect to new people. Given the many existing connections between the three companies — Microsoft is a strategic Facebook investor, and Facebook board member Peter Theil is an investor in Zynga — it’s not surprising that this new partnership benefits all of them.