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Zynga Hopes ‘Project Z’ Can Be Its Facebook-Free Second Act

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Zynga wants to be seeing as a gaming destination in its own right, but it’s not quite ready to explain how it intends to achieve independence. The company’s Project Z was unveiled Tuesday as a way for Zynga to ease away from Facebook as its lifeline, as seen by the simultaneous launch of new games within Facebook’s walls.

The new project and games were introduced during an event at Zynga’s new headquarters in San Francisco, evidence of the huge growth the company has seen as it prepares to go public later this year. But despite that growth and the launch of several titles as mobile applications, Zynga still relies on Facebook for the bulk of its user base and revenue and it would like to do something about that.

Hence Project Z. “What we’ve found from talking to our players is that they want to play online with friends who love the same games, and they want to connect with others who are playing at that very moment. We call that the promise of instant social, and today we’re taking a big step towards it with the announcement of ‘Project Z,’ a new social games service from Zynga, enabled by Facebook Connect,” Zynga said in a blog post. Interested gamers can reserve their “gamer identity tags, or zTags” (basically their online handles) on Zynga’s site.

That was pretty much it as far as details go, but it could be a big step for Zynga if Project Z enable the company to train consumers to think of Zynga as the gaming destination rather than Facebook. As noted above, you’ll still connect with your gaming partners using Facebook Connect, but it appears that the interaction and game play will take place on Zynga’s Web site.

Five new games were also introduced at the event. CastleVille, Zynga Bingo, and Hidden Chronicles are all new titles that will debut on Facebook, while Dream Zoo will be available as an iOS game and Mafia Wars 2 will launch on Facebook and Google+.