Facebook game star Zynga opens online playground

Facebook games star Zynga on Monday opened an online playground where users can enjoy hit titles without having to visit the world's top social network.

Zynga.com launched with CastleVille, Words With Friends, CityVille, Hidden Chronicles and Zynga Poker, along with a promise of lots more social games by the San Francisco-based firm and outside developers.

"Zynga.com is designed to make it easier for you to play with friends," Zynga founder Mark Pincus said in a blog post.

"We've invested heavily to build a network and infrastructure tuned for delivering social gaming at scale."

Zynga played up its online games community as an expansion of its partnership with Facebook rather than a quest for more independence.

Zynga rose to success on the popularity of it titles at Facebook, where millions of users enlist friends in either collaborative or competitive online play ranging from poker to growing virtual crops or building cartoon cities.

Zynga.com is connected to the Facebook "social graph" so game play and the actions of friends involved will follow users between the online venues, Zynga general manager Manuel Bronstein told AFP.

"I see this as a great manifestation of our relationship with Facebook that goes deeper into gaming," Bronstein said.

"In the morning you may check your news or social feeds on Facebook and then play games, but late in the afternoon you might just want to play, so you go to Zynga.com."

Along with keeping people connected with Facebook play companions, the Zynga website features ways to speed up progress in games and find "zFriends" who share one's passion for certain titles.

Zynga.com was also crafted as a platform on which third-party developers could make titles available to the 240 million people who play the company's games each month.

Zynga jumped into the stock market with a billion-dollar listing in December.

Offering 100 million shares -- one seventh of the company's total -- at $10 each, the maker of Facebook games FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Words With Friends was valued at a whopping $7 billion.

Zynga's stock price rose slightly to $14 a share on the NASDAQ in after-hours trading that followed the launch of the online games community.

Zynga games are free to play but the company makes money by selling virtual in-game goods to players and serving up advertising. The company sees the potential for revenue to grow if players flock to zynga.com.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 5 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 6 hours ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 17 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.