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Zynga focuses on portal, loosens Facebook relationship

Zynga took a big step Thursday to reduce its dependence on Facebook by ending the requirement for logging onto its fledgling portal through the social network., newly out of beta, will have "a new streamlined signup that lets you create your own account just for playing games" beginning next week, the San Francisco, California-based social game developer said on its official blog. players will still be able to log into the site via Facebook, however. Retaining the option to access the site through Facebook was a way to ensure that "existing players continue to have the best experience possible so you don't have to start from scratch," the company said.

But Zynga said feedback from beta testers of indicated that players wanted "to create a unique player name" and were looking for "a place that is even more dedicated to games and allows you to easily find and connect with other players," presumably more so than the Facebook platform where many of Zynga's most popular games got their start.

When launches, the company said it will retain popular beta features like live Social Stream and Fast Load, as well as Online Presence, a way to identify other gamers playing on the site. The social game developer said "some of your favorite games" would be available on at launch but didn't identify titles. Zynga promised "to work hard to bring you more great games and new features [to the site] over the coming weeks and months."

Reporting on Zynga's move, TechCrunch's Leena Rao noted that the company is now "shipping more third-party games on than in-house" while also adding a slew of development and support tools for developers creating games for the new platform. Zynga has also been experimenting with how it delivers ads to players on, including the use of in-game video spots, Rao reported - all part of an effort on the struggling company's part to "continue down the road of becoming less reliant on Facebook for social interactions and more."

Zynga, one of a new wave of Internet and social media companies to go public in recent years, has disappointed investors with poor financial results in recent quarters. The extent to which the company has relied on the Facebook platform has also come under fire.