Will Facebook’s split from Zynga see it make its own games?

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Things have been strained between Facebook and social gaming giant Zynga for a while. Now it looks like they’re making the split official.

The signs that Zynga was looking to distance itself from the social network it made its name on have been there for anyone to see. Its decision to start building games for Google+ and the announcement that it was building its own platform were among the most obvious clues.

Now the two have filed papers with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revising their long-standing contractual agreements. Under the new terms, Facebook will treat Zynga like any other game company. It also means that Zynga is now a lot less obligated to Facebook.

In a statement, Zynga’s chief revenue officer Barry Cottle said the move would give it more flexibility in searching out new ways to get people playing its own games: “Zynga’s mission is to connect the world through games. In order to do this, Zynga is focused on building enduring relationships with consumers across all platforms from Facebook and Zynga.com on the web to tablets and mobile. Our amended agreement with Facebook continues our long and successful partnership while also allowing us the flexibility to ensure the universal availability of our products and services.”

As AllThingsD notes however, it also paves the way for Facebook to start making its own games.

One line in the agreement suggested that this could well become a reality: “…effective on March 31, 2013, certain provisions related to web and mobile growth targets and schedules will no longer be applicable and Facebook will no longer be prohibited from developing its own games.”

Facebook denies this is the case. “We’re not in the business of building games and we have no plans to do so,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD. “We’re focused on being the platform where games and apps are built.”

So why have the provision in the first place? Well one possibility is that the lawyers are making it clear that Facebook is allowed to make games, where it wasn’t before. It doesn’t mean that it will, only that if, at some future point, it can if it decides to.

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