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RealNetworks Acquires Social Game Developer Backstage

Best known for its role in developing the Facebook adaptation of Family Feud, Backstage Technologies' expertise may bolster RealNetworks' social gaming platform, GameHouse Fusion.
RealNetworks has acquired game maker Backstage Technologies in an effort to expand further into social games. RealNetworks said Tuesday that the Canada-based Backstage will provide expertise in engineering and monetizing games for RealNetworks' digital games division, GameHouse. Financial details of the cash transaction were not disclosed.

Backstage is best known for partnering with iWin on a popular Facebook adaptation of FremantleMedia's TV game show Family Feud. Backstage's catalog of social games also include Pull Tabs, Scratch and Win, Slots and Vinyl City.

RealNetworks said Backstage would continue to operate out of its Vancouver headquarters. As a part of GameHouse, the company is expected to contribute to "key technological components" of GameHouse Fusion, RealNetworks' social gaming platform.

Introduced this year, Fusion is being offered as a platform for giving players access to social games across websites and devices. The RealNetworks technology currently powers a number of GameHouse games, including the smartphone game MarbleMixer, along with the Facebook games Uno, Scrabble, TextTwist and Collapse. GameHouse games currently reach more than 60 million active users a month.

"We acquired Backstage to advance our commitment to delivering fun and engaging games," Matt Hulett, senior VP of RealNetworks' Games Division, said in a statement. "With their pioneering talents in supporting and optimizing leading social gaming titles to scale to millions of users, Backstage will help evolve and improve our existing social games efforts."

Besides its games business, RealNetworks is majority owner of streaming music service Rhapsody, which is also partly owned by MTV. RealNetworks spun off Rhapsody this year into a standalone company. The number of Rhapsody subscriptions has stood at about 700,000 after peaking at 800,000 in the first quarter of 2009.

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