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Zynga: Project Z game hub and 5 new titles revealed

Press event announces "a new social playground" and new Castleville game for casual giant

Last night social gaming giant Zynga revealed five new games, and dramatic steps to take the company away from the confines of the Facebook website.

Described by the company as "a new social playground" Project Z or Zynga Direct will host Zynga games, but still use Facebook Connect to allow for connected multiplayer.

Players will be able to swap between the two sites without it affecting their game.

At the press event Zynga COO John Schappert described it as "the most connected social gaming site in the world." There's no launch date as yet, but gamers can already reserve game identities, or zTags, at the official site.

Previously Zynga has set up stand alone websites for popular titles like FarmVille, YoVille, and Mafia Wars.

Everything behind the products we're creating is our mission to build what we think of as a platform for play.

Mark Pincus, CEO

There was also a big focus on mobile, with new releases being developed in HTML5, CSS and Javascript, and CTO Cadir Lee promising that the company sees "a lot of promise" in mobiles and tablets.

The five new games announced, which will be available on Facebook and Google+, included a new addition to the Ville series, CastleVille from Zynga Dallas. A medieval themed social game with a MMORPG feel, the title seems to be aiming for higher production values, with a soundtrack recorded by a 75-piece orchestra and full choir.

"We set out to create a new game that was fun and brought together the best the Ville series has to offer," said Zynga Dallas's Bill Jackson.

There's also the launch of Zynga Casino, a new franchise that will bring together Zynga Poker and new title Zynga Bingo. Dream Zoo is a new animal collection game, and Hidden Chronicles is the company's first hidden object game. Zynga also launched Mafia Wars 2 on Facebook and Google+ yesterday.

FarmVille Express, Zynga Poker, and Words With Friends will be available in a new, HTML5 form from today.

"I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what we're trying to do. What's in all these games that we have now? How do you string it all together, tie it back to our mission that we've been pursuing for the last five years?" said CEO Mark Pincus.

"We challenge ourselves every day with the question 'how do we get you guys to play?' You don't have time to sit and play games, yet we really think that play is this macro theme activity that we all need to fit back into our lives. Everything behind the products we're creating is our mission to build what we think of as a platform for play."

In September Zynga had to make an amendment to its IPO filing to reflect a sharp fall in profits, but is still expaning its executive team, most recently with RockYou's senior vice president of games Jonathan Knight.

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Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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