RockYou buys TirNua for undisclosed amount

Katie Gatto · December 3, 2010 · Short URL:

RockYou takes a gamble that Facebook will ramp up the engines, and players will respond

People love to play games. On Average, 67% of American households have at least one person who plays a computer or video game, with those players devoting an average of about eight hours a week to game time.

So, how do you, as a developer, stand out from the crowd and draw users away from well-established titles? Companies need to offer something that's new. Something that will draw the players into a whole new world.

A 3D-world that is!

That is probably why TirNua, a maker of a real-time 3D-game engine, specially designed for Facebook games, was bought by RockYou on Friday. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the TirNua’s  team will be moving to RockYou’s offices in Redwood City, California.

The 3D-engine-based games are expected to be launched at an undisclosed date in 2011. The company hopes to bring a higher quality of real-time games to Facebook. This is a big gamble since real-time games have not had the best history of running smoothly on Facebook. Games like City of Eternals, published by Ohai, have already had issues with running slowly. The game currently has only 2,984 monthly active users. If Facebook doesn't ramp up its ability to run in real time, the benefits of this acquisition could be minimized. 

That is not to say that 3D gaming isn't an emerging market. After all Apple just had a patent for a new 3D setup approved this week, and Nintendo is gearing up to release its new 3DS, a 3D portable gaming system, on February 26th, 2011. RockYou will also face some competition of Facebook itself. San Francisco-based Rocket Ninja recently raised $3.5 million to bring 3D games to Facebook.

The only question left is, "Do users really want to play real-time on Facebook?" After all, they can already do that on their PC's. World of Warcraft (WoW), one of the largest MMORPG's, a type of game where millions of people interact in a fantasy environment in real time, reached 12 million monthly paying users in early October.  WoW may garner even more attention when its new add-on, Cataclysm, launches on December 7th.  Companies such as Mig33 have raised some pretty serious funds to create even more real-time games, with the advantage of the Marvel brand name to back them up.

RockYou, which raised $50 million, last October, in a round led by SoftBank, bringing its total funding to $127 million, is the maker of games such as Zoo World, Toy Land and Hero World. All of these games feature cute and cuddly 2D graphics. Zoo World currently has 6.4 million fans. It can boast 21 million monthly active users across all of its social games. TirNua is the maker of a game by the same name that is significantly less popular, with only 13,388 fans, and 9,436 monthly active users.

Currently, RockYou's revenue comes primarily from its ad network, which boasts more than 15 billion monthly impressions that reach 280 million users worldwide, each month. In addition to standard placements, the company also deals with in-game and video ads. The ad network will also help developers to monetize their games with polls and mini-games. 

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RockYou is a leading provider of applications and widgets on the web. RockYou widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories that are simple to use and enable people to frequently refresh their online style. Founded in 2006, RockYou has over 35 million users, serving over 180 million widget views per day in more than 200 countries. RockYou applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5.