Facebook shafts Zynga

Social not-working site Facebook appears to be shafting its troubled, but long term business partner, Zynga.

According to its developers blog, Facebook is rolling out a pilot program for small and medium-sized game developers and will work with select game developers and provide promotional support for their games in placements across mobile apps.

The cunning plan is to give developers access to the social network’s “800 million monthly mobile users.” Also on the menu is a variety of analytics tools for measuring their games’ impact, and a “targeting ability” for finding the right audiences and give them a cut of the games’ revenue.

For those developers it favours, it will help to cultivate high-quality, long-term players for their games.

This is all well and good, but those are the sort of things that gave Zynga its privileged status on Facebook.

In its day, Zynga’s “FarmVille” franchise made Facebook a pile of dosh. But it found its user base and revenues falling, Zynga shut down games and initiated punishing rounds of layoffs.

Xbox executive Don Mattrick took over as CEO recently but he really will have his work cut out turning the outfit around.

His work will be that much harder now that Zynga’s relationship with Facebook is demoted.

Other developers have worked out how they can use many of Zynga’s tricks and the social network’s audience for their own ends.

If Facebook encourages more small and medium-sized developers to jump into social gaming, it could fill the arena with even more competitors.