John Spinale (pictured above) is senior vice president of social games at Disney. He’s in charge of making sure that Disney takes its big brands and familiar characters into the social gaming market — in the right way. He runs the Playdom division, which Disney acquired for $763.2 million in 2010. Disney bought Playdom because it isn’t as easy as you think to take an older brand into the new medium of Facebook and create a hit game.
Disney, when they said, “Let’s get serious about games,” they actually acquired the vast majority of the development resources we have. Club Penguin came in through acquisition, Playdom came in through acquisition. We bought a company called Wideload, which is Alex Seropian’s thing after he did Halo, which was also working on console games for a time. Tap Tap, Bart Decrem’s mobile group, came in through acquisition.
Whenever Disney is really serious about something, we’re a very acquisitive company. We can get very big, we brought in all these companies and it’s great. But before that, Playdom itself was a very avid acquirer of companies. I think we merged eleven or twelve companies together over the course of the first two years of our existence. Every one of those was a startup, between five and fifty people.