On Tuesday, online social games developer Zynga held its first ‘Zynga Unleashed’ press event since moving to its spiffy new headquarters in San Francisco. It was also Zynga’s first major media event since filing for its initial public offering in July, and the clear emphasis was on reassuring investors left skittish after Zynga reported a steep drop in net income last month.
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus announced the development of Zynga Direct, a standalone web and mobile offering two years in the making. While Zynga Direct will utilize a Facebook Connect API, the move suggests a desire to partially wean Zynga off Mark Zuckerberg’s teat. (Facebook currently takes a 30% cut of all Zynga’s revenue.) Details are still sketchy, but games started on Facebook will be accessible on Zynga Direct and vice versa. While Pincus hopes Zynga Direct will ultimately become “the world’s largest play community,” there’s as yet no official launch date beyond “soon.”
Zynga’s Laurence Toney also announced the company is working on Zynga Casino, a portal designed to bring players “the full Monte Carlo experience.” Initially, Zynga Casino will incorporate the company’s wildly popular Poker product and a new game, Zynga Bingo (fearless prediction: it will come to be known as Zyngo), which Toney described as “Sin City meets your local bingo hall” incorporating “themed rooms such as Vegas Lights and Pirates Paradise.” We’d wager that Zynga slots and table games can’t be too far behind. Like Nevada casinos and California card rooms, US companies are increasingly betting on the need to establish an online gambling presence, minus the actual gambling part until head-in-the-sand legislators finally catch up with the desires of their constituents.
Zynga also announced its new HTML5 offering, Zynga Poker Mobile Web, which will work on Apple mobile products via Facebook’s iPad app. The product will be officially available on Wednesday.