Will Project Z Make Zynga Feel Facebook-Free?

When Zynga announced Project Z at its “Unleashed” event earlier today in San Francisco, it became clear that the social gaming giant was ready to take some space away from its tightly knit relationship with Facebook.

Project Z is a social network designed for games that also serves as a place where people can talk about the games they’re playing. It is entirely powered by Facebook Connect, and users can start their games on Facebook and then bring them over to Project Z. Designed as a way to gain some independence from Facebook, Project Z will be hosted on Zynga’s own site. Despite this move away from Facebook, Zynga still relies on Facebook for most of its user base and revenue.

What Does This Have to do with Zynga’s IPO?

This was the first major press conference for Zynga as it’s getting ready to go public with a $1 billion IPO. Back in July, when Zynga added a 600-plus-pages addendum to its IPO filing, it became clear that Zynga and Facebook were completely intertwined. One could say that Zynga should have just been the official game-maker of Facebook. Instead of becoming a part of the Facebook universe entirely, Zynga is attempting to turn in the exact opposite direction. Project Z is the first major step in helping consumers think about Zynga as the gaming destination rather than Facebook.

In September 2011, Zynga also launched CityVille on Google Plus, which could signify another step toward Zynga independence.

At the “Unleashed” event today, Zynga also announced five new games: CastleVille, Zynga Bingo and HIdden Chronicles, which will debut on Facebook, Mafia Wars 2 for Facebook and Google+. Dream Zoo will now be available as an iOS game.

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