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ESPN Takes A Run At Social Gaming Category With New Playdom Alliance

ESPN Interactive has alligned with Playdom, whose popular social games include 'Mobsters' and 'Tiki Resort' (below). May 19, 2010: Not content to be the self-proclaimed "worldwide leader in sports," ESPN is now seeking to become a leader in social gaming.

In what it called its first major presence in the social gaming space, ESPN Interactive has signed a two-year agreement with Playdom, a leading developer of social games, to create ESPN-branded sports genre games for social media platforms. Financial terms were not revealed.

The first two games in development under the new alliance are slated to launch this Fall. The games are scheduled to be available on ESPN.com and Playdom.com, as well as such  social media sites as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Tagged and Hi5. Mobile extensions from ESPN and Playdom will also be available.

The U.S. and U.K. alone represent roughly more than 100 million social gamers.  Of that audience, 95% play multiple times per week and 68% play every day, according to ESPN.

Playdom's list of social games includes Big City Life, Tiki Resort and Mobsters. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company also has deals with companies including 7-Eleven, Walgreens and Target.

ESPN Interactive has a history of collaborating with leading gaming companies across all platforms, including EA Sports for in-game integrations in NBA Live 10 and NCAA Basketball 10ESPN Arcade, ESPN’s casual games brand, which relaunched in July, averaged 461K unique users per month on ESPN.com last year, with total time spent on the site up 90% to 95.5 million minutes, according to comScore.

“Our deal with Playdom marks ESPN’s first major presence into the social gaming space,” Raphael Poplock, vice president, games and revenue strategy and development for ESPN Digital Media, said in a statement.  “The sports genre for this category of games has gone virtually untapped thus far, and through this agreement, we have an opportunity to be in front of a highly engaged audience and at the forefront of what is currently the fastest growing games category out there.”

According to John Pleasants, CEO for Playdom, "While new brands have been created in the social gaming category, we, at Playdom, believe working with existing intellectual property will become increasingly important over time and are pleased to be incorporating ESPN's brand and vast library of content into several new social games that are in development."

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