Viacom’s MTV Networks announced that it has acquired Social Express Inc., a social gaming development company. The move marks MTV Networks’ first entry into the social gaming space.
MTV Networks said will develop social games based on original intellectual property, as well as shows and characters from MTV, Nickelodeon and its other brands, with the first game to be introduced in the third quarter of 2010. MTV Networks will also leverage Social Express’s expertise to launch a publishing platform for independent game developers.
Based in San Francisco, Social Express declared that its veteran management team boasts former executives and developers from Apple, AOL, Yahoo! and Zynga.
“Social gaming is one of the biggest drivers of the explosive growth in social media – it’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s shareable,” said Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks. “Social Express brings us strong experience and know-how in this burgeoning space, which we’ll supercharge with the IP and scale of Nickelodeon and other MTV Networks brands to create great new social gaming experiences for our fans and cool tools for independent developers as well.”
Social Express will be integrated into Nickelodeon Digital, with Social Express co-founder and CEO Tony Espinoza overseeing social gaming strategy and development as Vice President and General Manager of Social Gaming for MTV Networks’ Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group. Neil Souza, co-founder of Social Express and FoulPlay Media, will be Vice President of Technology, Social Games. Both will report to Dave Williams, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Games, Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group, who reports to Stephen Youngwood, Executive Vice President for Digital, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids & Family Group.
“The Social Express team is a great addition to our gaming unit, and they are set to be a key part of our growth strategy,” said Youngwood.
In May, MTV Networks game sites attracted more than 22 million unique visitors and ranked as the number one destination in the online gaming category (MTV Networks game sites are a custom entity in ComScore – MMx). MTV Networks game sites include AddictingGames.com, Shockwave.com, Nick.com Games, Nick.com Arcade, Neopets, GameTrailers, and Xfire. The acquisition of Social Express is the latest gaming initiative for the Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group, which has also launched AddictingGames on the iPhone with the AG iNetwork and introduced a virtual goods platform to the site in the past year.
RBR-TVBR observation: OK, we admit it’s not our thing. But we have noticed that social gaming is not only big with young demos, but also with people in our more seasoned age bracket. Guess they can’t find other ways to burn time.