RockYou buys social gaming studio Playdemic

Manchester, England startup to retain creative control as studio under RockYou ownership

Financial trends and news by Ronny Kerr
January 14, 2011
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playdemicRockYou announced this week that it has acquired social game developer Playdemic. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Playdemic will continue to operate independently at its headquarters in Manchester, England, developing Facebook games as a RockYou studio. Founder and CEO Paul Gouge will lead the studio as VP and General Manager. RockYou’s SVP of Games Jonathan Knight says “Playdemic will retain their culture and creative control.”

So far, Playdemic has released just one game, Gourmet Ranch, an intriguing amalgam of Playfish’s Restaurant City and Zynga’s FarmVille and FrontierVille. (Hey, at least it’s not an exact clone.) 

Experience the adventure of the great outdoors on your very own Ranch! Grow organic crops and animals, use them to bake tasty dishes and then serve them or trade with your friends to earn cash. Use cash to build and decorate your very own homestead in the beautiful mountain wilderness.

Gourmet Ranch currently has half a million monthly active users. To put things in perspective, the most popular game on Facebook is Zynga’s CityVille, which just surpassed 100 million monthly active users this week. That might be an unfair comparison, though. If Gourmet Ranch wants to crack into the top ten most popular apps right now, it would only need about another 18 million more users. (Zynga’s Mafia Wars is currently 10th with 18.7 million monthly actives.)

The new acquisition comes just over a month after RockYou bought TirNua, maker of a real-time 3D-game engine specifically for Facebook applications. That was handled differently, as the TirNua team was moved to RockYou’s base in Redwood City, Calif.

These rapid-fire acquisitions are reminiscent of another social gaming company, Zynga, which bought almost 10 startups in 2010 to transform them into Zynga studios around the country. 

A relatively small startup, Playdemic had not raised any institutional investment rounds, but instead was primarily funded by Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop and life president of Eidos.


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