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Playdom Buys Koster's Social Game Developer Metaplace

Playdom Buys Koster's Social Game Developer Metaplace

July 8, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

July 8, 2010 | By Eric Caoili
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Acquisition-happy social games studio Playdom has purchased Metaplace (formerly Areae), the virtual world platform developer co-founded by game industry veteran Raph Koster, gaining access to the firm's tech and expertise.

Raph Koster and John Donham founded the San Diego-based studio in 2006 after leaving Sony Online Entertainment, where they worked on massively multiplayer online titles such as Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest II. For the last three years, Metaplace has focused on building its social gaming technology and virtual world software platform.

The company closed its flagship Metaplace virtual world property earlier this year due to the platform "not gaining enough traction to be a viable product". Since then, it's released its first social games, Island Life and My Vineyard, which have picked up a total of around 1.2 million monthly active users on Facebook, according to AppData.

With the acquisition, Metaplace's CEO John Donham will head Playdom's new San Diego office, while Koster continues his creative design work with Playdom's co-founder and chief product officer Dan Yue. Metaplace's Business Operations VP Jason Hable will move to Playdom's Mountain View office to oversee the company's monetization efforts.

The Metaplace purchase follows just two and a half weeks after Playdom picked up $33 million in venture capital financing, which added to the $76 million it raised in an earlier round of funding last November. In the past eight months, Playdom has acquired or invested in nine developers.

Those studios include Merscom (The Crazies), Trippert Labs (Fighter Jets), Offbeat Creations (Super Farkle), Three Melons (Bola!), Green Patch (Lil Farm Life), Argentinian firm MetroGames (Music Challenge), Acclaim (Bots), and most recently Hive7 (Knighthood).

"We expect that the Metaplace social game engine will form a key part of our unified back-end technology platform for Playdom's games going forward," says Playdom CTO David Sobeski. "We think the Metaplace engine is a competitive advantage in that it will take other companies years to duplicate its capabilities which will streamline and quicken our game development cycles."

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