Zynga CEO Mark Pincus announced a service called Zynga Direct today that seems to be the final form of the long-rumored ZLive platform.
ZLive was first reported more than a year ago and at the time was seen as a direct threat to Facebook’s games ecosystem, if indeed the platform allowed Facebook players to play Zynga games without Facebook. At that time, Zynga was also struggling with Facebook’s evolving platform requirements and Credits integration. Now, however, the market has changed and Credits are fully integrated in the Facebook platform across all games. In present conditions, Zynga Direct comes across more as a social club for Zynga gamers than a game-oriented Facebook alternative.
As Pincus explains: “We’re building a platform for play. For us it’s a platform. We’re not trying to be the company that’s trying to make the next hit game. We’re trying to have this experience make up a platform for play. Similar to what Facebook’s doing, but at a game level.”
Pincus put off the technical explanation for later on in the event. He did say that Zynga Direct is the deepest possible integration of Facebook Connect, and made a point of calling Facebook a launch partner of the platform, much as Zynga was Facebook’s launch partner for its mobile platform launched yesterday.
UPDATE: Zynga’s COO John Schappert announced what seems to be a separate product called Project Z, which is a web-based social network for Zynga players. It’s not live yet, but you can reserve a “Ztag” virtual identity here. It is also a Facebook Connect-enabled network.
UPDATE 2: Ah, it’s not a separate thing. Project Z is Zynga Direct. Both names are probably working titles only as the service isn’t live.