Zynga steps back from Facebook with social gaming plans

Zynga’s announced that it’s creating its own gaming social network, and launching a sequel to the ever-popular Farmville.

Zynga With Friends, says the company, will connect all players on any platform from Facebook to iOS and Android to Zynga.com. Features and services will include zFriends, live Social Stream and chat, as well as a newly launched multi-player feature on Zynga.com, allowing players to challenge friends head-to-head.

“We founded Zynga with a simple premise that we could help people put play back in their lives. We believe that play can become one of the most important ways we make new friends and enhance relationships,” says Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus.

“We’ve made some great progress on the Zynga Platform, and our pipeline of new games represents more genres of play that expand our audience, more mobile ways to play and more dimensions of play that will deliver the next generation of fun and social.”

The company’s also unveiled a new API layer called Zynga API to make games ‘more fun and more social’ and plans to open it up to third party developers soon.

Until now, Zynga’s had a symbiotic relationship with Facebook, accounting for as much as 15 percent of Facebook’s revenues. The launch of Facebook with Friends marks a step back from this, and an attempt at more independence.

Zynga’s also announced Farmville 2, a new version of its once massively-popular game. User numbers have fallen steadily over the last couple of years, although the company’s managed to broaden appeal with the launch of related games such as Cityville.

Added to that list now will be Chefville and The Ville – “Zynga’s most social game to-date,” the company says. It’s designed to let players create the house of their dreams and show it off to their friends.

“The Ville is the next step in Zynga’s mission to connect the world through games. It’s about creating a fun virtual world and making it easy for friends and family to play together,” says Mark Skaggs, senior vice president of product development at Zynga.

“With The Ville, we’re taking social to a whole new level. Your friends are active participants on your game board, and the interactions, relationships and choices you make together create a truly unique game experience.”