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Disney buys local social media gaming site

Original post made by Nick V, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer, on Jul 29, 2010

Go big or go home. That mantra seems to have been a driving force behind Disney's acquisition this week of the Mountain View-based [Web Link Playdom] social gaming service.

“When deciding how to place a bet we thought we should do it at a significant level and not just take a little shot,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, was quoted saying in the [Web Link New York Times]. “Too often traditional media companies only put a toe or two in, and they deprive themselves at the opportunity for real growth.”

Well, Disney certainly has dipped more than a toe into the pool of social media gaming. Playdom is ranked as the No. 3 gaming provider on Facebook. The company makes games with titles like "Sorority Life" and "Social City," which users can play casually -- checking in and out on Facebook, MySpace and their iPhones, whenever they feel like it. Playdom has the No. 1 game on MySpace, "Mobsters."

It is a model that has propelled [Web Link Zynga] -- the Bay Area-based social media gaming company behind FarmVille and Mafia Wars -- to great success. In a slumping economy, Zynga runs radio ads seeking new hires and has raised $520 million in venture capital, according to the Times article.

Such games make money in several ways, including through the sale of virtual goods. Sorority Life players can buy [Web Link virtual outfits] for their avatars at $2.50 a pop. It may seem like a waste of money to some, but, according to the Times article, sales of these little gifts made of light are expected to top $835 million this year.