The move is part of a greater strategy that may endear RockYou to fans who face the prospect of seeing their favorite social games closed.
RockYou is acquiring Gardens of Time, Words of Wonder, and City Girl. All three games are from Disney’s Playdom division, which was recently hit with a bunch of layoffs. The acquisition is part of an ongoing strategy at RockYou to profitably operate games that are past their peak and might otherwise face shutdowns. The diehard fans of these games benefit because they get to keep playing games that might disappear as the original developer moves on to something new.
Lisa Marino, the chief executive of RockYou, said in an interview with GamesBeat that RockYou has hired a large number of the Playdom employees who were still operating the games. She said that her company has learned how to profitably operate social games on Facebook and elsewhere with smaller teams, even when the games are on the decline. RockYou’s intention is to have minimal disruption to the service and operation of these games.
“We’re incredibly pleased with how quickly Disney has facilitated this process,” Marino said. “Overall, we have found a great strategy that is an alternative to tradition. Gaming has been plagued by companies that are one-hit wonders. We are picking up games that are past their apex and can still be operated profitably with users who play every day.”
Words of Wonder is a word-puzzle game on Facebook and iOS; City Girl is a fashion and social simulator on Facebook; and Gardens of Time is a hidden-object game on Facebook and iOS.
Those are just the latest games that RockYou has grabbed, and RockYou will bring them over to its network in the coming months. Disney has been cutting a lot of games and studios in an effort to make its game business profitable. The Disney games have about 2.5 million monthly users on Facebook.
RockYou has also licensed a number of social games from Digital Chocolate: Army Attack, a turn-based strategy game; Crazy Penguin Wars, a comical multiplayer action game; Millionaire City, a city-building business sim; and Zombie Lane, a humorous role-playing game. RockYou will begin operating those games on its network this week. These currently have about 1 million monthly players.
And lastly, RockYou has acquired 50 Cubes, which makes games for targeted at women such as Mall World. Marino said that RockYou has acquired the team
All told, the acquisitions will add three million to four million users to RockYou’s existing network of 75 million users. RockYou operates games much like TV show syndicators do, making money from the entertainment long after it is past its prime, Marino said. RockYou monetizes a lot of its network through premium ads from top brands.
Disney said in its own statement, “This new relationship will allow RockYou, which maintains several top titles and runs one of the industry’s largest in-game video ad networks, to continue to serve the millions of people who enjoy playing these games each month. Moving forward, Playdom will focus on creating new game experiences for its players.”
Marino said that the company is able to hit 25 percent operating margins on its games.
“We’ll be operating all of the games in cash-flow positive manner,” Marino said. “In most cases, we are able to pick up the development and operating teams and keep them going.”