Disney sealed a heavy bet on social media yesterday by buying Playdom, Facebook’s third most popular social gaming company, for $563.2 million. The New York Times has more:
As social games becomes a more crowded and difficult field — several hundred new games are introduced on Facebook weekly and most go nowhere — brands that can be used as the basis for titles are becoming more important.
“When deciding how to place a bet we thought we should do it at a significant level and not just take a little shot,” Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, said in an interview. “Too often traditional media companies only put a toe or two in, and they deprive themselves at the opportunity for real growth.” He said Playdom furthered his goal of providing entertainment to “a new generation of fans on the platforms they prefer.”
The purchase continues Disney’s effort to strengthen and diversify its digital media portfolio by betting on casual Internet games, in contrast to more complex games for platforms like Xbox and PlayStation.
Casual games are blossoming in part because players of all ages embrace them. In June, Disney made a small investment in a $33 million financing round for Playdom. On July 1, Disney announced its acquisition of Tapulous, which makes music-based iPhone games.
The NYT also writes that the social game virtual-goods market is expected to hit an impressive $835 million this year. We are witnessing the Disney-fication of social media.