Zynga's Not Done With Facebook Yet: Check Out 'The Friend Game'

Zynga's The Friend Game, with GM Demetri DetsaridisDemetri Detsaridis wants you to quiz your friends.

Photo: Zynga, LinkedIn

Facebook and Zynga just tore up their multiyear partnership agreement, making it easier for Zynga to pull away from Facebook. But it turns out that Zynga is still pushing traditional Web-based social games.In fact, Zynga’s newest title, The Friend Game, is a Facebook game that’s more or less about Facebook.

Demetri Detsaridis, the general manager of one of Zynga’s two New York studios, says that one inspiration for the game was a comment by Zynga CEO Mark Pincus.

Pincus said that Zynga was “like a cocktail party for your friends”—and that got Detsaridis thinking.

“The compass that guided us is that it’s a party game,” said Detsaridis. “It’s like charades. It’s like Taboo, it’s like The Family Feud. In the 1980s, you would sit around at home pulling cards out of a box and asking each other questions. In this era, it’s technology, it’s Facebook.”

The studio Detsaridis runs began as an indie game maker, Area/code, which Zynga acquired in January 2011. He says this has been the studio’s main project for the past few months.

The game invites players to answer questions about themselves, which then get posed to their friends.

Detsaridis said one inspiration was Zynga’s own internal analytical tools for analysing players’ behaviour.

“Wouldn’t it be as awesome if the players could have as much fun with the game as we are in learning how they play with it?” he asked.

There’s no mobile version currently, but given how Zynga’s talked up its multiplatform, Web-and-mobile strategy, it’s safe to assume Detsaridis’s team is hard at work on one.

Unusually for Zynga, which doesn’t apply the “beta” label to its products as freely as some Web companies do, it’s launching The Friend Game as a closed beta.

For players, that means two things: Features may change substantially from week to week. And Zynga has set a cap on the total number of players it will allow in at any time.

The game has a rainbow palette ...

Here's the basic idea. (For the curious: No, I do not have a tattoo.)

Sadly, short shorts are not a clothing option.

Not a lot of choices in body shapes, either. But onwards!

A selection of your friends show up randomly.

Here's a question!

Wow, I'm terrible at this.

Nope, I'm terrible at that, too.

Now it's time to fill in some information about myself, for friends to answer later.

Come on. My friends ought to know this answer!

I'm crazy about Ramona the Love Terrier.

Maybe I need to get some more friends in the mix.

Here's another way to invite your friends, by sending them compliments.

There are quests you can perform, turning question-answering into part of a bigger task.

Hey, I finally got one right!

This game seems really original—but not all Zynga titles have the same reputation ...

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