Walt Disney is in talks with social game company Playdom to buy them out for an estimated $500 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing sources familiar with the situation. Those "people" say that Disney's plan is to use the Mountain View, California-based company to incorporate its popular brands and characters into social games. Disney already has a deal with Playdom to develop social games using Disney's ESPN brand and is an investor in Playdom through its Steamboat Ventures venture-capital fund. The Disney fund recently participated in a $33 million financing round, bringing to $76 million the total financing raised by the start-up, Playdom said in the past.
Of the biggest social game makers, Playdom ranks third behind Zynga and Playfish. The company has 42 million active users playing its game a month on Facebook, compared to Zynga's 211 million. Still, Disney is less interested in Playdom's games and more interested in its ability to create them. For them this acquisition is more about developing its own properties and less abpout originality.