Zynga is planning to launch RewardVille, a new loyalty points program to reward users for playing its games.

According to the RewardVille web site, users will earn zCoins for playing Zynga games, which they can then redeem for rewards.

Sounds simple, but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. Thanks for the good folks at Techcrunch, Inside Social Games, and Fusible (who broke the story by tracking that Zynga bought the domain RewardVille.com weeks ago), here are the details:

  • At launch, the participating games will be FarmVille, FrontierVille, Mafia Wars, and Zynga Poker.
  • Users will earn zPoints each time they play one of these games, which they will accumulate to level up to a higher zLevel.
  • At each zLevel, users will earn zCoins which can redeem for exclusive in-game items.
  • Users will automatically earn zPoints by playing Zynga games, but can only earn redeem Zynga Coins if you register with a Zynga account.

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Zynga, which did not plan on this beta site to be uncovered so quickly, has released this statement:

“As a company focused on innovation we’re constantly testing new products and features. When experimenting with new products we take the feedback we receive and apply it to deliver the best possible user experience. We look forward to hearing how our users like RewardVille.”

As Techcrunch points out, this is a bitzConfusing(ha ha). It is, on paper, but it may actually be quite brilliant.

By creating two levels of loyalty benefits – zPoints and zCoins – Zynga is increasing the size of the funnel of their loyalty program as wide as possible.

For players, it will not be confusing at all Everyone who plays a Zynga game will automatically earn zPoints and level up just by playing, so there is no barrier for its hundreds of millions of players to start earning loyalty points. For its players, this is just another number that will increase based not-whatsoever-on your skill level. The goal is just to get you to play more, because Zynga knows, the more you play, the better the chance you will end up paying.

Zynga then forces you to sign up with a Zynga account to earn zCoins which you can earn for zRewards, which are virtual items which cost Zynga nothing anyway.

By creating two levels of loyalty points, Zynga’s program gets the best of both worlds: It automatically signs up all its players into its loyalty program but then encourages that huge pool of players to sign up for a Zynga account and create a direct one-on-one communication channel, outside of Facebook.

Admittedly, Zynga has its work cut out for them to make RewardVille as simple as possible and I am not sure branding the letter “z” is such a brilliant idea (the counter-argument is that for the global non-English audience, the simple “z” branding may be the way to go).

But, this is yet another instance where Zynga is launching a program with the express purpose of working within the confines of Facebook to siphon off as many of its Facebook players into Zynga’s world as possible.

Right now, Zynga is more dependent on Facebook then ever. But, the more programs like RewardVille that Zynga launches, the more players that Zynga will own.

Until one day, Zynga will own enough of Facebook’s users to not need Facebook to grow. Much as Yahoo! realized too late that it had given the search business to Google, Facebook may wake up one day to realize that it allowed Zynga to steal its gaming business all under ts watch.