The main site for Zynga‘s RewardVille customer loyalty service has gone live. The service itself became available to Zynga players last week, but only through specific supported games and toolbars. The main site at the time still displayed a “coming soon” image. Now the site is active and available in English, Portuguese, French, Italian, German and Spanish. RewardVille gamifies the act of playing Zynga’s games by letting players acquire zPoints from in-game activities, level up, and unlock zCoins to spend on exclusive limited edition virtual goods in supported games.
A game-like loyalty program for games may seem a bit recursive, but it’s likely that Zynga plans to use RewardVille to get more of its players interested in acquiring premium virtual goods directly from Zynga. Early last month Zynga began raising a new $500 million round of funding at a $10 billion valuation, sparking reports that Zynga intended both to go public in 2012 and launch its long-rumored zLive service later this year. Through zLive, players could log into games like FarmVille and CityVille without using the Facebook platform.
This would also mean Zynga’s players were no longer forced to use Facebook Credits, which gives a mandatory 30% cut of each transaction value to Facebook. If Zynga could get players to log into games through its own network, Zynga could set up its own payments ecosystem with its own virtual currency and keep a much greater percentage of each transaction. Zynga’s ambition is probably not to leave Facebook entirely, but instead to create a way for big-spending power users, called “whales,” to pay directly to the company.
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