A very early Disney-Playdom post-mortem

Chris Morrison has written what appears to be the first chapter of a book on the Disney-Playdom acquisition over at Inside Social Games.

In his very long blog post and analysis (which I’m actually applauding), he questions whether Disney’s $700 million acquisition of Playdom has been a “win” or “fail” so far for Disney.

On the “fail” side, Playdom was not growing when Disney bought it for a lot of money, it’s studios from its acquisition binge were not well integrated, and most of its hit games in the past year were not actually developed internally by Playdom (though to be fair, there is a dispute on that in the comments).

On the “win” side, Playdom spent tons of money and resources on its virtual goods infrastructure, and the ability to extract as much money from social game players is highly valuable (it’s the reason Zynga is now valued higher than Electronic Arts in some circles). Playdom also brought global relationships, though I would assume Disney could have pulled that off given their large media prowess.

So, is it win or fail? The answer, of course, is that it’s too early to tell. And, that it’s complicated. Surely, Disney did not have to pay $500 – 700 million for Playdom at the height of the bubble in social game valuations. Had they just waited a month or two, I think this price could have been cut in half.

Still, for a company as big as Disney, $500 – 700 million is sort of chump change. Disney plans to replace its current games programs with Playdom management and its social games initiatives, making social games as much a part of the Disney DNA as animation, TV, movies, or amusement parks. Imagine every time that a Disney movie or hit TV show is released, it’s accompanied with a Playdom social game.

If Playdom becomes merely one part to Disney’s gaming group, then this deal will go down as a huge fail and waste of money. If the acquisition can transform Disney’s mediocre to date gaming initiatives and make social games as big for Disney as Pixar is to its animation studios, then $500 – 700 million will not seem so expensive.Again, it’s too early to tell.

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