Zynga unleashes API, gaming social network

Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, announces new updates to Zynga technology and products at Zynga Unleased on June 26.

Zynga (s znga), one of the world’s most prominent online gaming companies, announced that it will release a public API that will allow third-party developers to take advantage of its technology, as well as the release of “Zynga With Friends,” a social network that will attempt to build connections around online gaming.
Zynga has some of the world’s most enthusiastic and prolific online gamers, boasting 290 million monthly active users and more than 22 million mobile players per day. In an average minute, players of Zynga games send over 1 million messages to each other, play 64,000 words in “Words With Friends,” and create 43,000 drawings in “Draw Something,” CEO Mark Pincus said during an event at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.
The Zynga API will allow third-party game developers to take advantage of Zynga’s technology and servers, which the company said are strong enough to allow the company to release 1,000 new features to its games in a given week. The Zynga API will allow gaming companies to build their own games on top of Zynga’s technology, enhancing online gaming opportunities for smaller startups.
“Now third parties will be able to focus on what they do best. Enjoy and create beautiful games,” said Kostadis Roussos, chief engineer at Zynga.

Zynga employees gathered in the company’s San Francisco offices Tuesday for Zynga Unleashed.

Zynga built much of its success through social games connected through Facebook, such as Farmville, so its release of a new social network called “Zynga With Friends” puts it in direct competition with the world’s most popular social network. Facebook, too, has benefitted from Zynga’s success, with a good portion of ad revenue and users coming to Facebook specifically to interact with Zynga products, which GigaOM has written about previously.
“Zynga With Friends” will allow users to build a centralized profile for all their Zynga gaming experiences, aggregating their top performances across multiple games on both web and mobile platforms, which is a growing part of Zynga’s business.
The social network will allow multi-player gaming, chat features, and suggestions of both virtual and real-life Zynga-playing friends.
In addition to the  new social network and API release, Zynga also released several new games and features at Tuesday’s event. They include:

  • The Ville: The company’s new “house and people” game that looks remarkably like The Sims,  allows users to create families,  build houses, and interact in a virtual world.
  • ChefVille: This game lets users host a virtual restaurant, cook dishes from a variety of food genres, and earn points that translate into emailed real-world recipes that a user can cook with non-virtual food.
  • Elite Slots: This is a lottery-type game that allows users to create a social experience around a traditional slots game, with chats and interactive features.
  • Ruby Blast: In this Zynga creation launched last week, users can dig through bedrock with friends and activate “power-ups” to earn high scores.
  • Matching With Friends: The newest game in the “With Friends” franchise, Matching With Friends is a social puzzle involved colored bubbles and competition.