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Social networking game provider Zynga is announcing today that they are opening their network to third-party developers and publishers. Zynga claims to be the largest social game network with 1.3 million daily active users and 20 million registered users. (it’s nice to see a company share active numbers)
Current publishers include: Facebook, Bebo, Friendster, meebo and soon MySpace will be added. The initial third-party games announced includes Sierra Online’s web games Capital Defense and Boogie Bunnies and Come2Play’s Backgammon and Bigpoint’s two most popular games Dark Orbit and Sea Fight.
While not mentioned in the press release, apparently other large social networks could become publishers for Zynga as well.
So here’s how this works… if you are a casual game developer trying to market your game on Facebook, you could either do it yourself or sign on with Zynga and let them promote the game for you. If you promote it yourself, any income you generate is your own. With the Zynga deal, you share in the revenue generated by your games but you have a higher probability of making your game sticky as Zynga will be promoting it.
The company has raised $10 million from a variety of companies including NY-based Union Square Ventures. The company is in heavy hire mode.
While I still believe 2008 is the year of the widget, casual gaming is right up there too.