Zynga, after months of rumors about a strain in its relationship with Facebook and a dalliance with Yahoo, is sticking close to the social network for the launch of its newest game, a Farmville-style offering called Frontierville that debuts today. Sources close to both companies said that the two have worked out their differences over issues such as the use of Facebook Credits for payment in Zynga games, as well as the effect that Facebook’s new rules on notifications in a user’s stream has had on the viral growth of them.
Zynga “has a great relationship with [Facebook], and it is definitely a long-term relationship,” said one source. The two companies are “working together to do what’s best for both their ecosystems.” Both recognize that they’d each lose something if they were to dissolve their connection, the source added. Zynga, which has become Facebook’s largest social game provider by a substantial margin, gets millions of users for its games from the social network; Facebook, in turn, gets millions of engaged users who spend lots of time on the site.
The two companies recently issued a press release to quell some of the talk that they were less than friendly, and announced a five-year “strategic relationship” in which Zynga agreed to expand its use of the new Facebook Credits payment system. The social network takes a 30 percent cut of all payments done through Facebook Credits, something Zynga was reportedly not happy about.
Talk of a rift between the two companies began after changes were made to the way that Facebook applications notify users of activity, which caused the growth in Zynga’s games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars to slow and even decline in some cases. According to statistics collected by Second Shares — a site that tracks the value of private companies through the secondary share market, and has valued Zynga at $5 billion — the company saw a dramatic decline in monthly average users after the changes were made.
The new game, Frontierville, was designed by Brian Reynolds — who has worked on several landmark PC games such as Civilization II — and is the first social game to offer multiple characters or avatars for a user to control. Zynga has 7 out of the top 10 games on Facebook, and more than 230 million active monthly users spread across all of its games. Farmville alone has more than 70 million monthly active users, and one of the company’s most recent games — Treasure Isle — has more than 24 million monthly users, despite being launched a little over a month ago.
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