Game creators are gathering in San Francisco right now for the 2013 Game Developers Conference. This marks a year since social-game developer Zynga announced its third-party-publishing initiative, Zynga Partners.

Now that Zynga Partners is a year old, it’s pointing out its recent success with Playdemic’s family simulator, Village Life.

Village Life just reached 1 million daily active users, and Playdemic chief executive officer Paul Gouge credits Zynga’s marketing savvy for the bulk of that success.

Playdemic“The market has moved to the point where you have to get behind your games with serious marketing spend,” said Gouge. “We’re a reasonable-sized studio, but that’s still a very beefy expense. Frankly, we’d never have the cash reserve to put the marketing muscle behind it that Zynga is able to do.”

Those 1 million DAUs is evidence of that, but it’s also evidence that Zynga has a skill important to third-party publishers: It knows how to pick winners.

Working hand-in-hand

Zynga had faith in Playdemic’s capability to push out a high-quality game, but the publisher worked closely with the development team to bring out the best in the title.

“Development of the product has been hand-in-hand with Zynga’s third-party team,” said Gouge. “We had a weekly call — if not more than once a week.”

This helped Playdemic ensure Village Life is as good as it can be, which is important since Zynga is reserving its major third-party marketing campaigns for only the highest quality releases.

“Zynga was very candid about the level of support it would give a product based on how good it will become,” said Gouge.

Zynga decided that Village Life is good enough to warrant a major promotional campaign. It’s the first third-party game from the company to receive the same kind of treatment as first-party Zynga titles.

Third-party games treated just like one of Zynga’s own

“If you go to CastleVille, CityVille, ChefVille, or CoasterVille, you will be able to get an incentivized reward for [checking out] Village Life,” Zynga vice president of partner publishing Rob Dyer told GamesBeat. “Because of the reach those games have, it’s just a huge amount of players that are going to be going to Village Life. That’s just part of it.”

Other cross-pollination opportunities include Zynga popping Village Life into a prime spot across the top of all of its major games. The publisher also pushes it out on Zynga.com’s front page.

“It’s front and center of everything short of FarmVille 2,” said Dyer. “Which it is even still on the menu at the top. You’ll even see stuff about Village Life in Zynga Poker.”

Zynga is working with 40 development partners in its third-party program. It’s already helped launch 27 web and mobile games. At GDC this week, it’s likely hoping to convince more developers to come on board.

“This is us treating Village Life like one of our own games,” Dyer said about the game’s promotion. The message is clear: And your game could be next.