MTV Acquires Social Gaming Team; Will We See a JerseyshoreVille?

As the social gaming industry matures, there is an influx of branded IP entering the space through partnerships with existing platforms. Companies like Playdom and Sibblingz can help brands to launch cross-platform games but there are other options asides from working with publishers. In a bold move, MTV Networks today announced the acquisition of Social Express, Inc., a social gaming development company. This marks Viacom’s first move in the social gaming space that could prove successful as it already has popular gaming sites and tons of IP under its belt.

The San Francisco based Social Express will integrate into one of MTV’s subsidiary arms, Nickelodeon Digital, and focus on creating social games based on original IP and popular characters from Nickelodeon and MTV shows. The first game is set to debut in Q3 of 2010.

“Social gaming is one of the biggest drivers of the explosive growth in social media – it’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s shareable,” said Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks. “Social Express brings us strong experience and know-how in this burgeoning space, which we’ll supercharge with the IP and scale of Nickelodeon and other MTV Networks brands to create great new social gaming experiences for our fans and cool tools for independent developers as well.”

Social Express’s co-founder and CEO Tony Espinoza will take on the role of VP of Social Gaming Strategy and Development as well as the General Manager of Social Gaming for MTV Networks’ Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group. The other co-founder, Neil Souza, will join as VP of Technology, Social Games.

“The Social Express team is a great addition to our gaming unit, and they are set to be a key part of our growth strategy,” said Youngwood.

MTV Networks has been putting a stronger emphasis on gaming and its game sites like AddictingGames, Shockwave Xfire, Neopets and a few others others, had 22 million unique visitors, ranking them as the number one destination in the online gaming category. With a company portfolio of more than 150 television channels and 400 digital media properties worldwide, MTV Networks should be able to create compelling titles to eventually compete against companies like Playdom who have been on a frenzy of launching games.