Back in May we reported on a partnership that social gaming giant Zynga had forged with Yahoo that would integrate some of Zynga’s games throughout the Yahoo network. At the time both companies were a bit vague when it came to discussing what the integration would look like (the details were still being worked out).
Today, we’re seeing the first fruits of the partnership: Yahoo has just launched Mafia Wars and FishVille. The games will appear as part of Yahoo’s Messenger, its Games portal, ‘My Yahoo’, its browser Toolbar, and Pulse. Which means more eyeballs for Zynga that are located away from Facebook.
Obviously Zynga has a close relationship with Facebook (after heated negotiations, the two reached an agreement over the use of Facebook Credits earlier this year). But it has a strong incentive to ensure that it is not totally reliant on the social network, because Facebook has been known to change the rules on the fly (see their changes to the notifications viral channel, for example). So Zynga is expanding to Yahoo, and it will be coming to Google as well. Earlier this year Zynga also attempted an integration of Farmville with MSN, but that’s since been canceled.
This is also only the first part of the Zynga’s Yahoo integration — I suspect it’s a trial run of sorts, in preparation for launching Zynga’s flagship titles like FarmVille, Poker, and FrontierVille.
Update: Zynga isn’t the only game developer involved with today’s Yahoo launch — Yahoo is also integrating games from casual game developers OMGPOP and ELEX.