Social-game maker Zynga is a huge driver of traffic for Facebook, and their announcement Thursday that they are launching a separate site where people can play their games without accessing Facebook could be bad news for the Social Network that's supported them. Zynga announced it'll be redesigning its website for late March so users can "play games more quickly with access to live chatting and message board features where players can ask for help," according to Reuters.
Facebook, of course, depends on Zynga's users to keep playing games like FarmVille within its site. According to Facebook's IPO documents, the company makes 12% of its revenue from Zynga. This move toward an standalone Zynga site should be freaking them out especially as they deal with their IPO, as Forbes' Dave Thier notes.
Not so, as Zynga’s COO John Schappert explains to Venture Beat:
This is certainly not a surprise to Facebook. It’s worked in partnership with them. The whole project coming to fruition is thanks to their help and support. ... [W]e’re very, very good partners with Facebook, and our game boards are shared. You can start on Facebook, continue on Zynga.com or vice versa. Start playing on Zynga.com and pick up and play on Facebook as well. So we think it’s very, very complementary to what Facebook is offering.
It'll be interesting to hear from Facebook how or whether they think this strategy is to their benefit. And as they open up to investor scrutiny, you can expect that explanation will have to come sooner or later.