RealNetworks to Add Facebook Games, Social Features

RealNetworks Inc. introduced an application called GameHouse for Facebook with more than 1,000 games that can be played by users of the social network, underscoring the growing popularity of interactive gaming.

The company also unveiled today a set of tools that help game developers add features for social-network users to track scores, create tournaments and award virtual prizes. In the future, RealNetworks plans to offer GameHouse on other sites such as Comcast Corp.’s video-gaming service, said Craig Robinson, a vice president of RealNetworks’ GameHouse unit.

RealNetworks is spinning off its music business and next plans to separate the games unit to sharpen the company’s focus, acting Chief Executive Officer Bob Kimball said in March. The games division seeks to capture some of the U.S. market for gaming on social-networking sites, which is expected to triple to more than $2 billion by 2012, according to ThinkEquity LLC.

The developer tools, called GameHouse Fusion, will help game makers include social-networking features such as the ability to create tournaments and trophies, connect users with other friends playing a game and generate recommendations for new games to try.

RealNetworks said GameHouse Fusion is designed to work on a variety of gaming sites and services and is supported by media and technology companies including Comcast, News Corp.’s MySpace, Qualcomm Inc. and Mattel Inc.

Ads, Virtual Goods

Fusion also will provide tools to help games vendors analyze play so they can alter a game to maximize users and associated revenue. The tools will allow game makers to place advertising in their products and sell virtual goods to players. Currently developers who need tools for these functions would have to work with four or five different suppliers, Robinson said.

RealNetworks announced the products today at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Company founder Rob Glaser remains chairman after stepping down as CEO in January.

The company’s shares fell 16 cents to $4.25 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They have increased 15 percent this year.

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