You can feel free to punch me in the spleen for that title, by the way.
It's really saying something that things are getting to a point where I almost (almost) feel sorry for Zynga. The game developer -- using the term very loosely here -- came into its success mostly from the appeal of being integrated with Facebook.
As times change though, so to does the relationship between the two companies. Facebook has basically come out with a change to the agreement between the two companies that "ends Zynga's ability to promote its Zynga.com website platform on Facebook," something which many have speculated to be one of Zynga's key sources of advertisement to players.
As the article further reveals, the news has not been taken well, with Zynga's stocks losing 13% after the news came down the pipe. This is coming off the back of a string of well documented troubles that the company has been going through lately, all of which mostly started off the back of the case that EA brought against them for allegedly infringing on The Sims Social with The Ville.
Now, it's necessary to note that this does not signify any sort of end to the relationship between Facebook and Zynga. People will still be able to play Zynga games on Facebook, but now Facebook is under no obligation to make sure that Zynga's titles are the ones most heavily promoted. Other companies can now have a shot at procuring some of the advertising that Zynga previously enjoyed a fair amount of exclusivity to.
At absolute worst, this also means that Facebook could start developing social games of its own if those heading the company believed it could be a good idea. So far Facebook representatives have denied this possibility, but it's not off the table for any point in the future either.
Basically, this seems like the end of the honeymoon period between the two companies more than anything else. If this would have happened before Zynga's run of bad luck then people might have thought it would be a little strange, but probably wouldn't have made much of a big deal about it. In this case though, timing is everything. People are going to draw the conclusion that this is Facebook trying to set a little distance between itself and Zynga, whether that was the intention or not.
This change isn't set to take place until the end of March next year. Even though I'm biased, I've got to admit that reading some of the reactions to it I have to agree with some analysts that say that this might end up not being anywhere near as big a deal as people are making it out to be. I would certainly place the layoffs and closures at levels above this. It would be different if this were Facebook completely kicking Zynga off of its programs, but it's not.
Really, in the end, I guess that this is just another straw. How many more it would take to break the camel's back is really anyone's guess at this point.