SAN FRANCISCO -- Zynga is leaving no social-gaming gem unturned in its ramp up to an initial public offering.
From its sparkling new headquarters here, the company announced a major new gaming platform, code-named Project Z, that will let its millions of customers seamlessly play games on Facebook and Zynga.com; a lineup of 10 new titles, including Zynga Bingo, Hidden Chronicles and the mobile-only Dream Zoo; and, perhaps, its most ambitious game yet, CastleVille.
Zynga is trying to put more social aspects into social gaming, by making them more accessible and engaging, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said on Tuesday.
CastleVille is the crown jewel in a Zynga franchise that has produced FarmVille, FrontierVille and CityVille, its most-popular title with 74 million users.
The medieval-themed game, which bears a resemblance to DreamWorks' Shrek, boasts movie-like production quality, a cast of well sketched-out characters, and an original soundtrack featuring a 75-person orchestra and full choir. DreamWorks SKG co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is on Zynga's board but did not have a hand in the making of the game.
"We want to creative a narrative with characters that redefines the social-gaming experience," says Bill Jackson, creative director of CastleVille.
The onslaught of news comes just weeks after Zynga, which is prepping for a highly anticipated IPO, said some of its games would be available on Google's social network, Google+. Mafia Wars 2 was added on Tuesday.
Zynga has tried to keep its Ville games appealing through partnerships with celebrities, such as Lady Gaga and Enrique Iglesias, and other pop touchstones. Earlier this year, it launched a Kung Fu Panda 2-themed version of CityVille.
The social-gaming market is expected to hit $8.6 billion by the end of 2014, not counting advertising revenue, according to social-applications platform Viximo and SuperData Research.
Although Zynga is the undisputed leader in the social-gaming market, it — like other IPO candidates — is under pressure to cash in while there is still an appetite for tech startups. Recent reports have hinted at potential delays in the anticipated stock offerings for Facebook and Groupon.
At the same time, Zynga faces increasing pressure from Sims Social on Facebook, which has quickly accumulated 66.6 million players.