Photo: By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Zynga and Facebook just renegotiated a long-term deal the games maker and the social network signed in 2010.Essentially, the deal erases some special privileges Zynga had, putting it on more equal footing with other app developers, while freeing Zynga up to develop games for other platforms.
Of course, there are no other social networks that matter, at least as far as games are concerned. Zynga offers Zynga Poker and a handful of other games on Google+, Yahoo, and MySpace. Activity there, as far as we can tell, is insignificant. The platform Zynga really cares about, besides Facebook, is its own website, Zynga.com.
So what this really lets Zynga do is develop Zynga.com independently from Facebook.
In exchange, Facebook no longer has to guarantee growth targets for Zynga or give Zynga special abilities to promote its games. For the most part, Zynga will now get treated like any other developer. Facebook wanted that because other developers have been doing much, much better than Zynga.
One other thing Zynga gave up was a restriction preventing Facebook from developing its own games.
That’s gotten a lot of people thinking Facebook is going to jump right in and compete with Zynga.
We don’t think that makes any sense: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been pretty outspoken about how his company didn’t anticipate that people would want to play games on the social network, and he doesn’t think Facebook would be good at coming up with games.
What Facebook is good at, though, is building a platform for games.
That’s exactly what Zynga wants to do, too. Zynga.com is a game-focused social network for Zynga’s own titles, but Zynga is courting other developers to let it publish their games for them on Zynga’s platform—its network of players, its cloud infrastructure, and its payments systems.
Don’t forget, Facebook just hired away Zynga’s CFO, Dave Wehner, two weeks ago. He’s known for his expertise in virtual goods and digital payments—and he’s now putting that to work in a finance job at Facebook.
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