Zynga.com launches in open beta: Start adding zFriends for faster in-game progress

At the first of the month, we brought you an overview of the new Zynga.com, a new way to play your favorite Zynga games, make friends and earn quicker progress across your games than by playing on Facebook. The Zynga.com experience has now launched in open beta, meaning that some features are still lacking, but you can definitely jump into this new way to play.

As a refresher, you're not leaving any of your progress or friends behind when playing on Zynga.com - all of your kingdoms, cities and Words with Friends games (as examples) will be there waiting for you when you jump in. The biggest part of this open beta is actually being able to add new friends in the form of zFriends. These players will be able to help you in your favorite games, and you'll be able to help them in return, but you don't have to add them as Facebook friends in order to do so. In this way, your privacy remains intact but you still gain the ability to earn collectibles, quest items or free gifts that much easier.

Each person on Zynga.com has their own profile, where you can see which Zynga games they play, their current level in those games, and how often they play. You'll also be able to see a feed of each player's recent activity across all games. Say a player completes a quest in CastleVille, that item will show up on their activity feed. Or, if a player makes a request for an in-game item, like a Clue to expand their Manor in Hidden Chronicles, you'll see that too. From each profile page, you can choose to send them a zFriend request, or look at their own friends to continue to social circle growth. You can also see your friends' online status and can chat with them if you'd like to really make friends.

As for playing the games themselves, you can choose from the games currently available on the site (which isn't complete as of this writing), and will see the same game you'd find on Facebook, down to the Zynga Messaging Center that appears, giving you quick access to your gift requests. The helpful ticker along the right side of the screen allows you to send items to all people playing the game, and hopefully receive some rewards of your own along the way.

Ultimately, this beginning experience on Zynga.com should be used to acclimate yourself to the site's layout, and as a way to fill out your zFriends list with plenty of new in-game neighbors so that you'll really be ready to make progress when the rest of the site's features come online. We'll make sure to let you know when that happens, so keep checking back with us!

Have you tried Zynga.com? How many zFriends have you found so far on the site? Do you think you'll eventually use Zynga.com as your preferred method of playing Zynga's games, or will you continue to play on Facebook proper as you do now? Sound off in the comments.