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Update: Could Zynga Become The Next Big Social Network?

by Sean P. Aune | May 18, 2010May 18, 2010 7:54 pm PST

UPDATE: Facebook and Zynga have entered a new five year agreement.  Guess Zynga didn’t want to build its own network.

It has become glaringly obvious that things are not going swimmingly between Facebook and game maker Zynga, the company behind the insanely popular FarmVille.  While it is easy to argue that Facebook made Zynga, it can be conversely argued that Zynga helped to make Facebook as friends invited others to come play games with them.

While Zynga has been receiving sky high valuations as of late, well into the billions of dollars, it seems that Facebook has decided it was time they got some of that money for themselves.  With the switch over from allowing people to pay Zynga directly for purchases, users must now use Facebook Credits to pay for items, and the social network keeps 30 percent of that revenue for itself.  While most small developers probably don’t mind Facebook taking the cut for handling all of the issues, to Zynga this represents a huge chunk of change.

zynga logoAs possibly a way to attract new users, or perhaps to send a not-so-veiled message to Facebook, FarmVille has its own website now.  It still requires a Facebook login, but one imagines that wouldn’t be too difficult to change.  Is Zynga trying to tell Facebook something?  Are they even willing to listen to it?

A friend of mine pointed me to a post from GameZebo that poses a fascinating hypothesis.  If Zynga does strike out on its own, could it theoretically become the second largest social network in the world over night?  The company currently attracts 240 million users a month out of Facebook’s 484 million users, which compared to MySpace, the current second place network, and its 113 million users, Zynga already beats them in theory while still existing inside of Facebook.

Now, there is certainly no delusions that Zynga would be able to retain all 240 million users if it left completely.  Many people play the games just out of convenience, but they wouldn’t be willing to pursue Mafia Wars to another site.  So, MySpace has 113 million users, Hi5 has 50 million and Tagged has 25 million … is it so hard to imagine Zynga dropping in somewhere in the space between Tagged and Hi5?  Most sites have to dream of building up that high, but imagine you just flip a switch and you’re already there?  Not a bad starting point, and then you could build from there.

In Facebook’s greed to get more money in its bank account, they could have potentially created its own next big enemy.  If the two can’t make some kind of peace, and soon, you could soon be telling them you’ll send them a message on Zynga as opposed to Facebook.

What say you?  Has Facebook created it’s own worst enemy?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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