Playdom, a leading developer of social games has announced that they acquired Merscom. Merscom is a leading developer of casual games and is a pioneer in developing games based on popular third-party licenses, such as Sea World, National Geographic, and NBC Universal.

What’s fascinating about the press release is that Merscom is described as a social games company. Mind you, Merscom has been developing Facebook games for over a year but many readers of this web site are more familiar with Merscom as a developer of download games, especially hidden object games. If this is not a sign of the times for download and Facebook games, I am not sure what is.

Gamezebo just reviewed the lastest hidden object download game, Merscom game, Masquerade Mysteries: The Case of the Copycat Curator, today. Gamezebo’s reviewed over 40 Merscom download games since we first started reviewing casual games.

Though Merscom continues to develop download games, the company started to developer games for Facebook a year ago. They have so far released a few Facebook games, such as The Crazies based on the movie. And based on our many talks with Merscom’s management team in the past (some of the nicest people in the business, must be a North Carolina thing), they have many more Facebook games in development right now that we should see very soon.

By purchasing Merscom, Playdom has acquired a smart and scrappy games developer with a knack for creating casual games based on third party IP’s. It’s an acknowledgement by Playdom that big brands may be the next battleground for social games as Facebook continues to change how it does business with game companies and game players.

What’s the meaning for download games? Our guess is that Merscom will focus most of its attention on Facebook games development, since it has been acquired by a social games company. In the big picture, unless the powers that be in the download games market figure out a way to make it more lucrative for game developers to make money on download games in the future, we’ll be seeing a lot more announcements like this in the future.