Zynga to launch games platform, invites third-party developers

Zynga will enable users to play directly on its website, where it will host games from other developers

Zynga will launch its own social gaming platform and open it up to third-party game developers, the company announced on Thursday.

The maker of "Mafia Wars" and "FarmVille" will soon have its own website where people can sign up and play games with their friends. Today its games are played primarily on Facebook, Yahoo and a few other websites, as well as on smartphones.

In a big change for the company, Zynga will also allow third parties to develop games that run on its platform. Initial partners include MobScience, Row Sham Bow and the Canadian company Sava Transmedia.

Zynga isn't leaving Facebook; it said its gaming platform will be "fully integrated with Facebook," allowing people to start a game on its website and pick up where they left off on Facebook, for instance.

But the move will give Zynga a bit more independence from Facebook, the network where its games first rose to prominence.

And unlike players on Facebook, players on the forthcoming Zynga website will be able to chat with friends and make game-related requests without leaving their game screens.

Zynga first disclosed plans for the website last October under the code name Project Z. It will be hosted at a revamped version of zynga.com.

"What we're really excited about is the long journey to truly building the best destination for play on the Internet," said lead product manager Reed Shaffner in a video Zynga released.

Zynga's first earnings call as a public company in February suggested how dependent it is on Facebook. Its annual revenue accounting was affected by its mandatory move to Facebook credits midyear, for instance.

Zynga also does much for Facebook. In January, Facebook's initial filing for a public offering showed that the social network relies on Zynga for 12 percent of its revenue.

Cameron Scott covers search, web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.

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