A long time in coming, Zynga’s RewardVille site is going live today, promising players of Zynga games a variety of new ways to earn in-game points called “zPoints” and a currency called “zCoins.” They can then use the currency to earn special things like limited edition virtual goods in top games like CityVille and FarmVille.
RewardVille is both a loyalty program and a way of getting users more used to earning and spending in currencies that Zynga controls, rather than Facebook Credits.
Despite ongoing efforts with other platforms, mostly mobile at this point, Zynga still has most of its audience on Facebook. And as long as it depends on Facebook, it is subject to the rules that Facebook puts in place around its business — Credits being the main example today, as Zynga tried hard to get out of paying the 30% fee for using the mandatory currency before signing to a five-year deal to use it last May.
If Zynga is going to go public, which it could do as early as 2012, it needs to prove it can make money on more than one platform. With mobile social gaming still emerging, other social platforms withering, and Facebook continuing to grow, Zynga’s other main alternative is the open web. A service called zLive, or Zynga Live, has been in the works for at least a year or so. When Zynga was near closing a massive private equity round that values it at $10 billion, a New York Times article on the funding cited three sources saying Zynga Live was coming later this year.
So now, ahead of that launch, Zynga’s Facebook users are getting all the points and currency they need to get playing on the site. That’s not to say that Zynga wants to get all of its business off of Facebook, as that’s where many of its users want to be. Rather, it is likely trying to do things like get its most serious (spending-prone) users away from Credits.
The relevant part of the Zynga press release:
“Level-up” the Zynga Way – Rack up Zynga-level points called “zPoints” and currency called “zCoins” across Zynga games. Earning zPoints lets you advance your Zynga level, gain zCoins, and just as in the games, unlock different RewardVille items along the way. Earn as much as 80 zPoints per game or 300 zPoints total in one day. The more you play Zynga games, and the more Zynga games you play, the faster you’ll level up and earn rewards in RewardVille.
Get Exclusive Virtual Goods – Redeem zCoins for exclusive and limited edition items, such as the “Stepped Skyscraper” in CityVille or a “Ring of Fire” in FrontierVille, available only on RewardVille. These special items are free and offer great payouts that help you advance faster in your game. All players who sign up for RewardVille in March will receive one free item per game.
Connect with Friends Across Games – Send mystery gifts across games to friends and family playing other Zynga titles. Once they accept your gift, they gain zPoints or zCoins which can be traded in at RewardVille for exclusive items in the games they love to play.