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RockYou's new strategy: Rescue games that other publishers don't want

RockYou is taking over Digital Chocolate and Playdom titles in two separate deals that bring 3 to 4 million players -- and some of the games' developers -- into its direct purview.
RockYou was an early success on Facebook, picking up millions of users -- but as the market shifted, it turned its attention away from purely developing games and apps to running an ad network for social, mobile, and web games. Now it's branching out further -- in an interesting new move that sees it rescue viable games from publishers that don't want them anymore. In a blog post, CEO Lisa Marino calls this strategy "our vision for the future of RockYou," and compares it to cable TV channels and online services that monetize TV reruns via advertising. RockYou is licensing Army Attack, Crazy Penguin Wars, Millionaire City, and Zombie Lane from Digital Chocolate, and outright purchasing Gardens of Time, Words of Wonder, and City Girl from Playdom -- which was significantly impacted by the Disney Interactive layoffs last month. Notably, RockYou is hiring developers from Digital Chocolate and Playdom to work on the games. Some of these games were once huge successes: Gardens of Time, for example, was named the most popular social game of 2011 by Facebook. In her blog post, Marino further explains that the company's ad business sets it up to take games that other publishers no longer consider profitable and run them, just like cable networks or Hulu do with TV reruns. "Though past their apex, these games have very long-lasting and dedicated user bases that monetize for years, making them very profitable over the long run," she writes. The company's press materials note that the games, combined, have a player base in the 3 to 4 million range. She also writes that we can expect "many more premium games which are still loved and played by millions" to be added to the company's line-up via acquisition. It could potentially mark a new path for games that have passed their initial blush of success, which have up till now commonly been shut down as their publishers move on to newer titles.

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