Mike Isaac

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Zynga to Launch Cross-Platform Gaming Network, “Zynga With Friends”

Zynga’s game playing network is massive — more than 290 million people play the company’s games each month. The problem is, Zynga says, those players are scattered across multiple devices and platforms and can’t always sync up to play the same games.

Zynga aims to change this. At the company’s second annual Zynga Unleashed event in San Francisco on Tuesday, Zynga unveiled a unified platform to bring players together across portals such as the Web, Android and iOS, Facebook and Google+.

“The social engagement across our network is industry leading, but it’s also fragmented,” said Manuel Bronstein, Zynga general manager.

The idea is centered around the Zynga message center — the hub found on Facebook and Zynga.com that contains a player’s friends list, an activity feed of friends’ gaming statuses and a list of gaming suggestions based on what games you and your friends are already playing.

Also, with the newly launched Zynga API, third-party developers can beef up their games with widgets previously available only on Zynga.com, like group chat, a live social activity stream, and a zFriends list. More social, the philosophy goes, means increased engagement — exactly what Zynga and partner developers want.

Players can also connect using the newly launched real-time multiplayer feature which, just like it sounds, allows multiple players across separate devices to play with — or against — one another simultaneously. That’s a far cry from the typical turn-based gaming that Zynga offers, like those games in the “With Friends” franchise.

What’s unclear at this point, however, is how the new network will affect Zynga’s relationship with Facebook. If multiple players aren’t forced to play the same games through the same platform, that means players have the option to disperse across multiple mediums — mobile devices, Facebook and Zynga.com. And that also means revenues could potentially be more evenly distributed.

Of course, a bolstered internal social platform still has the capacity to increase engagement inside existing Facebook-hosted Zynga games, so it’s not necessarily an entirely bad thing for Facebook. It’ll be interesting to see how players end up using the platform as the new initiative launches.

The platform will roll out sometime in the near future (TBA), on Zynga.com, Facebook and mobile devices.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google