At a Gamasutra-attended event in San Francisco today, social gaming giant Zynga unveiled Project Z, or Zynga Direct, an online community separate from Facebook that will host the company's titles -- it believes the service will be "the most connected social gaming site in the world".
The site will work with the Facebook Connect API, allowing users to continue interacting with players on Facebook. Zynga CEO Mark Pincus claims "it's the deepest integration with Facebook Connect than any service on the web or mobile."
Pincus added that Zynga Direct will "create social-ness around the games, not just in the games." Gamers will be able to play Zynga titles on the "new social playground" site, then pick up from where they left off on another computer by logging in.
This isn't the first time Zynga has attempted to expand its games beyond Facebook through a standalone site -- last year, in the midst of seemingly tense negotiations between Zynga and Facebook over the site's universal virtual currency Credits, it created separate hubs for FarmVille
, and Mafia Wars
, all of which were also powered by Facebook Connect.
While Zynga did not announce a launch date for the service, it is now allowing users to reserve zTags
-- a universal gamer ID that is separate from their Facebook names but will appear in all the titles they play at Zynga Direct. It's offering virtual currency as a registration incentive.
Along with this site designed to "leverage [players'] friend networks on Facebook to play in an environment built for games", the company unveiled ten other games and mobile initiatives
at the Gamasutra-attended Zynga Unleashed event this afternoon.