News Corp. buys social game developer Irata Labs

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It was just a week ago that News Corp. Digital Media Group CEO Jon Miller told the MIPTV conference that casual games were "the next big thing" in consumer entertainment. Now, it seems the company is putting some of its money where its mouth is, acquiring tiny social game developer Irata Labs.

The three-person Irata team is best known for Spymaster, a slick Mafia Wars style game based in the world of international espionage. The game runs on its own dedicated web site, but players need to connect to other players via Twitter or Facebook Connect to reach the game's highest levels. Irata also has non-gaming products, including iList, an application that uses Twitter for classified advertising, and the upcoming Flyvly, a location-aware middleware platform for mobile games.

The LA Times reports that Irata will not be incorporated into News Crop.'s MySpace or gaming news site IGN, but will work with those departments "when it makes sense" according to "a person familiar with the matter."
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