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Liveblog: Zynga Announces 10 New Products, Initiatives

Liveblog: Zynga Announces 10 New Products, Initiatives

October 11, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

Today, Zynga announced 10 new products for social platforms, including CastleVille, a number of new HTML5 titles, its Zynga Direct initiative, and more.

At a Gamasutra-attended press event in San Francisco, Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus (pictured) stepped on stage to introduce Zynga's philosophy behind its social games.

"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?" he said.

"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."

Pincus began the developer's list of announcements with a new title dubbed CastleVille, created by Zynga Dallas, and a hidden object title called Hidden Chronicles.

He also introduced a new initiative dubbed Zynga Direct, which Pincus said will "create social-ness around the games, not just in the games."

"It's the deepest integration with Facebook Connect than any service one the web or mobile," he said.

Pincus then handed over the stage to chief technology officer Cadir Lee, who debuted Zynga's new HTML5 engine.

"We see a lot of promise in this area," Lee said, noting that Zynga has a lot to offer on the web, smartphones, and tablets. He said that the engine can support thousands of objects in a game world. "We’re also hard at work on new capabilities with Flash 11," he added.

He then unveiled Z-Cloud, a new cloud-based infrastructure for social games. "The worst thing is when you can’t play one of our games," he said. "We try to make sure they’re available all the time." Lee added that Zynga is working on HTML5 R&D to make games entirely from HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Afterward Zynga's vice president and general manager Roy Sehgal took the stage to introduce Hidden Chronicles, a hidden object title " which is a first for the developer.

Zynga hopes to make the game more social by enabling multiplayer play, allowing players to compete to find the most objects, compare scores, and more. Sehgal said the title will be making its way to Facebook soon.

Next, Zynga Poker general manager Lo Toney announced Zynga Casino, a collection of multiplayer titles that includes the developer's original poker title. "We're bringing fans the full Monte Carlo experience," Toney said.

Toney also announced Zynga Bingo, which allows players to play bingo together on Facebook and mobile devices. "It's where Sin City meets your local bingo hall."

Bill Jackson of Zynga Dallas (formerly Bonfire Studios) then stepped forward to announce CastleVille. "This is Zynga's most beautiful game to date," he said. "CastleVille carries Zynga's legacy to a new level of social."

"We set out to create a new game that was fun and brought together the best the Ville series has to offer." When introducing the game, Jackson shared a handful of 3D-rendered videos that offered a look at the game's cast of characters, noting Zynga's emphasis on creating strong characters in its social games.

When summing up the title, Jackson said, "Zynga is bringing massively multiplayer role-playing games to the mass market." He added that the game's music will include a full orchestral soundtrack, claiming "this is the first time this has been done in a social game."

Following Jackson was Zynga COO John Schappert, who oversees all of Zynga's products and games. "We're focused on creating play for everyone, everywhere, from adventure to action, to puzzle, to casino," he said. "Our players want to take our experiences everywhere and play then everywhere they are."

Schappert then stepped aside to introduce David Ko, Zynga's chief mobile officer. He began by discussing Words with Friends, which Ko said Zynga has put on as many devices as possible. "We're delivering our games to our players, on the platforms they want to play them on."

Ko then announced that three of Zynga's recently-announced HTML5 games will be available tomorrow, including FarmVille Express, Zynga Poker, and Words With Friends.

He also debuted two other HTML5 titles: Mafia Wars: ShakeDown, and another title dubbed Dream Zoo, which Ko described as "Zynga's first game in the zoo genre."

Schappert returned to the stage to introduce "Project Z", a new online website that Schappert says "will be the most connected social gaming site in the world."

He added that players on Project Z can play their Zynga games and pick up their project whenever they like on another computer. While Zynga did not announce a launch date, users will be able to reserve their zTag user profile later today.

Gamasutra is attending the Zynga event in San Francisco for the remainder of the day, and will add detail and interviews as they occur.

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