Zynga to let users play games without Facebook

The company's COO discusses Zynga's plans to become more socially independent

Zynga's network of users has historically been tightly linked to Facebook's social graph, but now the gaming giant is looking to branch out.On Thursday, Zynga rolled out changes to its homepage allowing users to create an account on the site just for playing games without having to log in first through Facebook, as has been the custom previously.The moves are part of a larger company plan to further distance itself from Facebook in an effort to expand and solidify its own user base. Ending the contract with Facebook that has bound Zynga more tightly with that social network than others was about doing what's best for the players, Zynga chief operations officer David Ko said Thursday afternoon. "A large percentage of our players are connecting with their Facebook ID, but there's also a large percentage of players coming to us specifically to play in a gamer environment, and we're trying to offer them that experience on Zynga.com," he said during a conference in downtown San Francisco.People will still have the option of connecting through Facebook and retaining their existing friends, game progress and sharing history.In 2013 Zynga will also focus on strengthening its franchise of products as it rolls out new games, Ko said.Draw Something 2, for instance, which incorporates significant user feedback from the company's hugely successful Draw Something mobile drawing game, will launch "soon," the COO confirmed.Running with Friends, which has already rolled out in Canada, as well as Farmville 2 for mobile, will also launch this year, Ko said.The company will also focus specifically on mobile and tablet computers as more people move away from the desktop."Mobile right now for Zynga is one of our most important issues as a company," Ko said.Currently 72 million of the company's 300 million monthly active users access games on mobile, but Zynga is looking to scale up those numbers for mobile.More gaming companies, Zynga included, will also be looking at launching products first on tablets instead of smartphones as the devices become more widespread and allow for richer gaming experiences, Ko said.Besides Facebook, Zynga's games are also accessible through Google+ and the Android platforms, though 86 percent of the company's revenue in 2012 was derived from Facebook, Zynga said in its most recent annual report.

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