Social gaming companies on Facebook are known for using your newsfeed to send more users back to their games. Zynga appears to be testing out a new plan, though: newsfeed items from users who “Like” FarmVille now direct people who click on it away from Facebook, to FarmVille.com.
It doesn’t appear that Zynga is using any of its other notifications to send people to its own website, and its own webpage listing for FarmVille still leads to Facebook. It’s possible that it began directing users to FarmVille.com while recently arguing with Facebook, when it seemed that Zynga might split and go launch its own game site — the idea being that it could use these email addresses to communicate with users without having to go through Facebook. On the other hand, Zynga’s browser toolbar has long sent users directly to FarmVille.com, and FarmVille.com requires you to log in and use it through Facebook.
FarmVille has also started trying to establish a more direct connection to users through their email addresses, as we spotted last week (see screenshot, below). While it’s easy for developers to request a real email address from new users, older users have been receiving in-game notices requesting that they update their email, if they originally opted to use an anonymized address.
Of course, Zynga had good reason to start using these kinds of tactics, until recently. While the social gaming company was wrangling with Facebook over platform issues, it was readying a “Zynga Live” service as a backup plan, in case it had to leave Facebook.
But even now that it has a new five-year contract with Facebook, it seems likely that Zynga will continue to emphasize its own sites on the side — both for performance reasons, and to maintain a viable escape plan from Facebook.
It’s also worth pointing out that Zynga users who migrate over to the company’s own platforms may not have to pay for their virtual currency with Facebook Credits, which would give Zynga back the 30 percent cut that Facebook would otherwise take. We haven’t seen the contract between the two companies, so we’re not sure that’s allowed; but in theory, it’s now a viable concept for any social gaming company. However, as with any application on the platform, Facebook still has full control over how third parties communicate with its users from other sites. The issue of how developer monetize virtual currency on other sites has not yet been decided.