Game developer for social sites like Facebook attracts big money from big game publisherElectronic Arts, one of the world's largest third-party game publishers, announced today the acquisition of social gaming startup Playfish for at least $275 million in cash and $25 million in equity retention arrangements. Additionally, if Playfish reaches certain performance milestones by the end of 2011, Playfish's former owners could nab up to $100 million in cash.
While EA has been a massive developer for console and PC games, the company hopes this latest acquisition "strengthens its focus on the transition to digital and social gaming."
Playfish, along with competitors Playdom and Zynga, is currently one of the leading social game developers. Across almost every well-known network and platform--Android, Bebo, Facebook, Google, iPhone, MySpace, etc.--Playfish's games have been installed 150 million times by millions of people worldwide. Playfish says it sees 60 million active users playing its games every month. Pet Society, Restaurant City, Country Story and Who Has The Biggest Brain? are just a few examples of some of Playfish's most popular games.
The London-based startup has raised $21 million from Accel Partners and Index Ventures to date and is estimated to pull in $75 million in annual revenue.
Notably, EA just last week launched Spore Islands, a Facebook game which represents the first time a major video game publisher has supported one of its key franchises with a free, casual game on a social media site. The Spore franchise sold over 2 million units last year. Combine that with an earlier announcement from 2K Games revealing that Civilization will soon be coming to Facebook, and it is no understatement to say that social gaming is literally blasting off.
Expect more and more social games based on big franchises.
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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users. Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist. The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel. Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.zynga.com.
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Playfish is a social games company that creates games for people to play together.
Founded in October 2007 by casual and mobile games veterans and backed by $3M in seed funding, we believe games are more fun when played with friends and family. So we are working on combining the best elements of casual games, social networks, MMOGs and virtual worlds to create entirely new, more social ways of enjoying great games together.
Traditional computer games focus on standalone game play on consoles, your PC or on your mobile. Games that do allow you to play together with others online normally require you to buy the game, go online and try and find like-minded new friends who are also playing the game. This is something that usually only the most dedicated gamers are prepared to do.
Our social games are different. Social games allow you to play together with real-world friends and family using the infrastructure built by social networks. This is in some ways a return to the roots of games. You play with the same people you would play cards, board games or go bowling with in the real world. Sharing the game experience with friends makes it more compelling and fun.
At Playfish we believe social games are a big part of the future of the video games industry, and are working hard to be the leading company in this emerging sector.
Playfish is headquartered in London, UK with offices in Beijing, China and Tromsø, Norway.