When Chris DeWolfe left MySpace after it was acquired by News Corp., he signaled his intention to create a social games company by buying Mindjolt, a leading aggregator and distribution of online flash games on Facebook.
Yesterday, he raised the ante by acquiring two more game companies: Hallpass Media, a free online games network, and SGN, social mobile games company.
The question is: will he take it to the next level and buy MySpace next?
That is the question posted by the New York Times and Inside Social Games. News Corp is reportedly shopping it for $100 million at a huge loss from its initial purchase. MySpace traffic is dropping off a cliff but the technology is sound. And, Mr. DeWolfe brought with him engineers from MySpace. If he buys MySpace for a penny, he could combine the social networking assets of MySpace with the gaming assets he’s most recently purchased, and create a social gaming network that could compete with Facebook or Zynga.
Speculation aside, let’s chat about the two most recent acquisitions. Hallpass brings a distribution network of 1500 games and 4 million unique users, though its questionable how many of those games it owns. Unless you own it, flash web content is as commoditized as buying and selling wheat or corn. It’s still an good purchase in that the founder of Hallpass gets web games and it potentially adds a lot of new web games content to Mindjolt, which needs it to stem it recent traffic losses.
The SGN acquisition is interesting in that SGN has a track record of creating critically acclaimed games for iOS and Android platforms. Back in the day, the two leading social game developers were Zynga and SGN. While Zynga zinged to more social games on Facebook and building state-of-the-art marketing and acquisition tools, SGN zanged and focused on high-end iOS titles with state-of-the-art graphics.
Though being acquired is a win, it’s safe to way that it was Zynga that made the right move. Ironically, SGN was correct that mobile would be the next big thing for games. Strangely, they did not excel on the social mobile side.
With these purchases, Chris DeWolfe and Mindjolt are making moves to establish themselves as a leading games company. Unless they buy a social network like MySpace, however, they will not be playing in the same league as Zynga.