Playmaker: IGN Launches Social Gaming Platform
Beating Google to the punch, News Corp.'s IGN Entertainment on Wednesday debuted a social gaming network dubbed MyIGN. The site encompasses a suite of tools that form the foundation of a content-based social platform specifically targeting gamers.
"My IGN builds on the foundation that the giants of the social Web have already developed," said Peer Schneider, senior vice president and publisher at IGN Entertainment. "We're adding social layers to our existing sites to transform how gamers interact with each other, content and content creators."
Driven largely by games' popularity on Facebook, the social gaming market is white hot at the moment.
The launch of MyIGN comes amid reports that Google is in talks with the makers of popular online games to create a social-network to rival Facebook. Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that the search giant is in discussions with Electronic Arts' Playfish and Zynga, and had been with Playdom. Walt Disney just agreed to acquire two-year-old social gaming site Playdom for $563 million, which follows Electronic Arts' acquisition of Playfish for a reported $300 million late last year.
There were also reports two weeks ago that Google has invested at least $100 million in Zynga, which has benefited from Facebook users' love for gaming more than any other company.
MyIGN aspires to gives readers an "identity" that allows them to see what their friends are doing across different gaming platforms and connects them with the games, other community members, and IGN editors. Presently, IGN covers some 60,000 games, which in theory gives them ample ability to cater to the tastes of individual gamers.
AT&T has signed on as MyIGN's first premiere sponsor, according to an IGN spokesman.
Other deals in the social gaming space abound. In an effort to bolster Nickelodeon Digital's offerings, MTV Networks earlier this month agreed to buy games developer Social Express for an undisclosed sum.
Also of note, San Francisco-based social network Hi5 just raised $14 million on the promise that it can ride the social gaming trend. Last fall, Hi5 hired gaming pioneer Alex St. John as its president, and continues to focus more on social games and virtual goods.
Earlier this year, IGN overhauled all of the advertising units on its home page and vertical channel pages, doing away with the traditional combination of leaderboards and half-page units, and replacing them with dynamic units featuring "pushdown functionality," "unified skins," along with an "HD-like view" that traverses the width of each page.