Disney-branded Facebook games coming in 2012, Playdom head says

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Disney Gnome TownCan we all just say, "finally?" During a panel named "The Rise of Social Games" at the f8 Facebook Developers Conference in San Francisco, Disney Interactive and Playdom head John Pleasants revealed that two to four Facebook games surrounding Disney brands will hit Facebook in 2012. The general topic of the panel was the fact that branded social games are taking off.

Pleasants was joined on the panel by Kabam CEO Kevin Chou, EA Interactive head Barry Cottle and Zynga CBO Owen Van Natta. Facebook director of games partnerships Sean Ryan moderated the panel with the preface that branded games will take over the Facebook platform. And he might be right: EA just released The Sims Social, Zynga will soon re-brand its new Adventure World with Indiana Jones and Kabam recently announced The Godfather: Five Families.

Playdom, which Disney acquired in July 2010 for a whopping $740 million, is ahead of the pack with two branded games on Facebook: ESPNU College Town and ESPN Sports Bar & Grill. Both games performed well, thanks to advertising through the ESPN TV network. While Disney owns the ESPN brand, notice how neither of those actually involve the insanely popular Disney characters we've come to love.

Honestly, we're surprised this didn't happen sooner. Consider this: Disney has its own cable TV channel through which it could, in theory, advertise whatever it wants. Pleasants didn't get into why it's taken this long for Disney to throw its cast of characters into Facebook games, but did reveal the power of the Disney name.

Gnome Town, which Playdom launched in the summer--and we enjoyed quite a bit--peaked at 530,000 daily players. But just plopping the Disney logo on top of the existing one made users more likely to spend in the game just through trust of the company's name, according to Pleasants. "We think it's an advantage, if you put game play first," Pleasants said.

It's comforting to hear this emphasized by these developers. (Kabam's Chou shared the same sentiment.) Branded games on Facebook are OK in my book, but the last thing anyone wants to see is the genre become a branding machine.

[Source and Image Credit: VentureBeat]

Are you on board with the growing trend of branded games on Facebook? Do you think developers will maintain integrity as the focus on branded content in their games intensifies? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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