Facebook turns to other game developers, highlights Avengers Alliance

Facebook put up a new blog post today, patting itself on the back for Open Graph's role in the success of Playdom's Avengers Alliance game.

The social network said shared stories that linked to the game on people's news feeds and timelines were clicked on 7 million times -- the third-largest source of clicks to the Marvel game -- and users who installed the game after clicking through Open Graph stories made an in-game purchase twice as often as those who joined the game through an invite.

The post also included comments from the game developer about … Read more

FTC: Disney's Playdom violated child protection act

Disney's Playdom social-gaming service has been ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to pay $3 million in fines for collecting and disclosing children's information without parental approval.

According to the FTC, many of Playdom's games, most notably the child-focused Pony Stars, attracted over 400,000 kids between 2006 and 2010. During that period, children under the age of 13 were able to register for the site, violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires Web site owners to notify parents and obtain their consent before they "collect, use, or disclose children's personal … Read more

Disney taps Yahoo exec to bolster Web efforts


Jimmy Pitaro, who is leaving his job running the powerful media properties at Yahoo, has taken a job as co-president of Disney Interactive Media Group, with John Pleasants.

Pleasants was CEO of Playdom, the online game company that Disney acquired for $763 million in late July.

The appointment of the pair, both of whom will report to Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger, is a big move by the entertainment giant.

And it looks like another large-scale attempt to clarify and bolster its Web strategy, which has had a long and often rocky history and is the first major … Read more

Raising the stakes in social gaming

Ten years ago, or even five years ago, most people would have reacted with disbelief if told that shortly some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley and Hollywood would be in a madcap race to get a piece of companies that facilitate the purchasing of virtual pink tractors.

But that's exactly what's happening in the world of social gaming. The companies that make games with names like Sorority Life, FarmVille, and Pet Society have become some of the most sought-after in the digital-media industry, and now huge companies are starting to take sides. We already knew that … Read more

Disney to acquire social-gaming company Playdom

Rumors that The Walt Disney Company would acquire social-gaming conglomerate Playdom have turned out to be true: Disney issued a statement on Tuesday, after the market closed, announcing its intent to acquire Playdom for $563.2 million, plus potential earnouts of up to $200 million.

"We see strong growth potential in bringing together Playdom's talented team and capabilities with our great creative properties, people, and world-renowned brands like Disney, ABC, ESPN, and Marvel," President and CEO Robert Iger said in the statement.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Playdom is the manufacturer of popular social games such as … Read more

Why Zynga ticks off the games industry

Being the 800-pound gorilla in the social games room, it's no surprise that there are a lot of gripes about Farmville publisher Zynga.

Usually, people inside an industry with strong feelings about a specific company keep those sentiments to themselves because they don't want to burn bridges. So what might surprise some is how easy it is to find games industry professionals with an ax to grind about Zynga. Those tend to have to do with issues ranging from the company's propensity to imitate others' game concepts to a perception that it is both insensitive to the … Read more

Playdom exec: Social gaming to look 'a lot more like Hollywood'

If social gaming is Hollywood, the people aren't as pretty. Well, maybe the avatars are.

Yes, yes, we know that social games are taking over the bloody world: earlier this week, gamemaker Playfish announced its $300 million sale to Electronic Arts, and on Thursday, rival Playdom retorted with the announcement of $43 million in venture funding at a $260 million valuation, and the acquisitions of smaller gaming companies Green Patch (manufacturer of Facebook-based games like Lil Green Patch and Farm Life) and Trippert Labs. Green Patch's games will up Playdom's reach on Facebook by 30 percent, the … Read more

How the Mafia conquered social networks

Not so long ago, the faces of gaming on social networks were those of zombies, vampires, and cuddly virtual pets. Now it's more along the lines of Michael Corleone or Tony Soprano.

You've probably seen it in your news feed: From Facebook to MySpace and now Twitter, Mafia-themed games have more or less taken over. Mobsters, a game created by development company Playdom, is the most popular application on MySpace's platform. Mafia Wars, owned by Zynga, is a huge hit on Facebook. The Social Gaming Network has an iPhone app called Mafia: Respect and Retaliation. And earlier … Read more

Biggest sellers in the virtual world

Virtual goods are providing very high-margin sales for many internet companies. According to, Chinese portal Tencent pulled in nearly $1 billion last year from the sale of virtual goods, while Facebook earns between $50 million and $100 million (your mileage may vary on these estimates). Recently Hi5 Networks made the move to include far more virtual goods as part of its social-networking site.

Obviously every site is a bit different, but there are two common threads of items that people seem ready to pay for:

Customization of the environment -- page decorations and other things that provide some kind of status in the game Enhancements to games -- if you can't beat them, you can just pay for items

Of course, there are many other possibilities--virtual gifts play a big role in Facebooks' revenue and I believe there is a huge market for goods such as baseball cards and other tradeable real-world/virtual world crossovers.

Looking at three of the top virtual goods companies, Rory Maher outlined how they make money. … Read more