Zynga with Friends is 'not really about growing beyond Facebook'

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Zynga announced a new network for players called "Zynga with Friends" at its Unleashed event in San Francisco today.

Zynga with Friends is being billed as a social lobby that will connect players across platforms – from iOS to Android and the company's traditional connection with Facebook and Zynga.com.

Michael Bronstein, Zynga's general manager says its players are highly social, and highly engaged: 1.8 trillion minutes have been played in the last three years and 2.8 billion social interactions happen per day. Likewise, 250 million people still play Zynga's games each month by going through Facebook or by logging on Facebook through mobile devices.

"It's not really about growing beyond Facebook," argues Reed Shaffner, Zynga's director of product. "It's about helping people find the perfect person to play a game with."

Still, it's an opportunity for Zynga to grow as a specialized network for casual gamers in a time when shares for the company have dropped below $5 in recent weeks.

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The company believes that Zynga with Friends is a way of expanding the number of players and keeping them more engaged by connecting them with friends and strangers with similar playing habits. This is particularly clear with zFriends, a social service that goes beyond your current friends by making new connections on Zynga.com. For example, you'll be able to see gifts you've received, challenges available, and what friends are currently online. Additionally, a social stream will give you real-time access to items that you and your friends need to advance in a game without leaving a game board. Finally, the multiplayer currently available on Zynga.com in Bubble Safari will branch out to other games.

Still, it's unknown as to how the new social network will impact Zynga's strong relationship with Facebook, especially considering the element of messaging on both networks.

Zynga with Friends will launch in the near future on Zynga.com, Facebook, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
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