Facebook and Zynga Game Network came to a five-year agreement this week to keep Zynga’s games on the world’s largest social network. Zynga, a game developer whose browser-based list of games includes Farmville, YoVille, Mafia Wars, and Texas Hold’em Poker, has more than 230 million active users monthly, of which 65 million play every day.
The deal between the two companies didn’t come without months of friction. Rumors of a split were circling as Zynga threatened to take its games elsewhere or even start its own gaming site. Zynga and Facebook most recently jousted over Facebook Credits, which was the only payment platform that Zynga and others could use.
Zynga makes money by selling advertising and virtual goods for the games, and Facebook was taking a 30% fee, which is typical in such a business model. Zynga wanted to lower that number, which prompted Facebook to threaten to shut down Zynga games altogether.
Details of the new agreement have not been released and it is unknown whether Zynga managed to lower Facebook’s percentage, but both sides appear to be pleased with the ongoing partnership. Zynga is currently testing Facebook Credits in select games and will expand to more titles over the coming months.
“Facebook was a pioneer in opening their platform in 2007 and in just three years, tens of millions of Facebook users play our games every day, from FarmVille and Café World to Treasure Isle and Mafia Wars,” Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in a press release. “We are excited about Facebook’s long-term commitment to social gaming and Zynga and look forward to working with them and other platform providers to bring the best social gaming experience to users worldwide.”
Said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, “We are pleased to enter into a new agreement with Zynga to enhance the experience for Facebook users who play Zynga games. We look forward to continuing our work with Zynga and all of our developers to increase the opportunities on our platform.”
With more than 28 million users, Facebook’s Texas Hold’em Poker is one of the most successful games developed by Zynga. The application is free to use and provides the thrill of online poker without the risk of losing real money. Just like playing on PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker, Zynga Poker matches users up with players who are sitting in front of their computers at the same time. Users can play in a tournament format or take on challenges against their friends on their own time, such as winning a certain number of hands within a specific time limit.
While Zynga is tied to Facebook over the next five years, it is still expected to break away from its dependence on the social network. The company is planning to launch Zynga Live, which would operate as a gateway for its social games. In the meantime, Zynga will continue to run its popular games on Facebook and continue its role as Facebook’s biggest app maker.