Zynga had a big sharedholders meeting last night and one of their largest announcements – other than FarmVille 2 – was the Zynga With Friends social gaming network. The service promises to let users play their Zynga games on any device at any time, and uses profiles and friends lists not unlike those currently available on Facebook. It makes sense for Zynga – they don’t want to have to piggyback on Facebook any longer than they have to. But does it make sense for the gamers?
Zynga’s goal is pretty simple here: get more players and more revenue with less dependency on Facebook. But to do that, especially on mobile devices and tablets, the games need to be compelling. That’s an area that Zynga has clearly excelled at. Players still flock to their games, and this quarter their monthly active user count is up up 25% over last year. We can also see that they have the top 5 games on Facebook.
Overall, the new network seems like a good idea. Even Wedbush’s Michael Pachter agrees on that. The thing that will determine whether this actually succeeds, though, is the ease of use of the network. Many gamers that use iOS already dip in and out of Apple’s game centre, and Zynga’s games are going to try to leverage Facebook while also recruiting users to their Zynga network. That’s a lot of user IDs, and it becomes unwieldy pretty fast. Users love Zynga’s Facebook games because it only takes one click and then one acceptance to get right into that first tutorial.
Will they be able to replicate that experience on their own network? Hopefully. There’s a lot riding on the next wave of moves by Zynga, and this network seems to be a crucial one.