Zynga Unleashing Several New Games and an Update for Its Playground

Zynga is expected to unveil its playbook at its second “Unleashed” event tomorrow, including a lineup of games that will be released over the next several months.

The event, starting at 10:30 am PT, will be hosted by the company’s CEO Mark Pincus at its swanky San Francisco headquarters. As usual, the canine-friendly company has invited both the press and their furry friends to attend.

But the social game maker has been fairly tight-lipped about what it will be announcing. Last week, it sent reporters red boxes, consisting of only an invitation folded into the shape of a paper airplane. The message was cryptic, but I’m taking it to mean that the company is hoping for its next set of products to really take off.

Indeed, Zynga — which is known for social game hits on Facebook like FarmVille, CityVille and Words With Friends — is probably looking for a catalyst. The company’s stock traded higher today based on buzz ahead of tomorrow’s event, but it is still down 40 percent since its IPO in December.

It is certain that Pincus and other executives will introduce a number of new mobile and social games onstage tomorrow. Included in that, we will likely see a game or two from its supremely popular ’Ville franchise, as well as games from the company’s two major genres, including casino and arcade. Any mobile announcements will be particularly important as smartphones become a significant driver of growth going forward.

I will also be keeping a lookout for an update on its Zynga.com platform, which was announced eight months ago as part of the company’s first “Unleashed” event. Zynga.com is a place other than Facebook for users to play games.

Since it launched in March, the platform has added seven games for users to play. Tomorrow, I’d expect Zynga to announce its own next wave of titles, as well as titles from third-party developers.

As the company adds games, it will be relevant to track the number of users attracted to the platform. While likely not a huge number yet, especially compared to its more than 50 million daily players on Facebook, it may be large enough to start attracting advertisers. Just last week, the first Facebook ads started appearing on Zynga’s network, hinting that it could soon be significant. (One ad I saw today was for doggyloot, a daily deals site offering 70 percent off toys and treats for dog owners. How appropriate!)

Whatever the company announces, however, I expect tomorrow’s event to be similar to Zynga’s first Unleashed event eight months ago, where it announced 10 new products, including a slate of new mobile games, a new ’Ville title and Zynga.com, which at the time it was calling Project Z. After the announcements, the company allowed press to get some hands-on time with some of the games.

The one big difference last time was that the company was getting ready for its IPO, and therefore, it was officially in a quiet period. This year, I expect Pincus to have a bigger presence since the gag has been lifted.

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