The Money Making Game #12: The Social Network

We certainly have no problem getting caught up in the fun of playing games, but the people who create them have their pocketbooks to worry about, too. In this column, finance expert and GameSpy contributor Chris Morris guides you through the tricky corridors the gaming industry’s financial side, touching on big-time business decisions and how they matter to the common gamer.

Not too long ago, publishers tended to turn their noses up at social games. Mafia Wars? Poker? Sure, they were mild distractions to entertain people in-between status updates… but a viable economic force? No way! Then FarmVille took off — and the bubble began growing. Big-name developers and executives began defecting. And publishers began investing. Flash-forward to today: No one’s foolish enough to say social (or mobile) games are going to replace console releases anytime in the foreseeable future, but at the same time, no one’s foolish enough to consider the field an afterthought anymore, either.

Electronic Arts, of course, is the biggest publisher to immerse itself in the social network gaming waters. Between its 2009 acquisition of Playfish (which consisted of a $300 million offer with an additional $100 million earnout) and its buyout of PopCap earlier this year (for $750 million and additional earnouts that could ultimately push the price over $1 billion), EA’s not taking the new casual gaming movement lightly.

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