Zynga executives held a press conference at the companys headquarters on Tuesday. They introduced several new games, including CastleVille, Bingo, Hidden Objects and a sequel to its early hit Mafia Wars, as well as new ways of playing old games.
They also talked about something that might be even more significant to the companys future: a new playground that would leave it less captive to the whims of its partner Facebook.
The larger game playing out here was Zyngas effort to redefine itself. Fifty-nine million people around the world played one of its games every day during the second quarter, a wildly impressive number for a company less than five years old. But the number was essentially unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2009.
Zynga’s founder and chief executive, Mark Pincus, said in kicking off the festivities that the company was not just trying to be the company that makes the next hit game. It had much bigger designs.
Most of the big Zynga games, including CityVille and FarmVille, are played on Facebook, which offers a ready-made audience of hundreds of millions of people. Zynga games are designed to be social, so being able to easily ask friends in your network to keep your crops growing on FarmVille or knock off a casino in Mafia Wars is crucial. But Facebook takes 30 percent of all revenue that Zynga makes on its site and wields the power in the relationship.
What Zynga is calling Project Z will be a new platform, an environment tailored just for games. A Zynga executive described it as a Web site done in partnership with Facebook. Project Z is supposed to shift the balance of power a little bit back toward Zynga.