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Disney acquires social game firm Playdom


Stick with me on this one -- it's not strictly Apple-related, but I think it will have a big effect on the App Store in the future. Last week at Comic-Con, I saw the head of Disney's mobile gaming division, and I had to congratulate him; the company's Toy Story 3 app nabbed over 1.7 million downloads from the App Store.

That's huge for them; as he'd originally told me at GDC earlier this year, the Toy Story app was part of a test to see if "selling" an app for free would increase its audience (which could then be sold on in-app purchases and add-on content). That test was apparently passed with flying colors.

Then, of course, Disney purchased Tapulous a while back, and now they've picked up Playdom, an online social game developer, for a whopping $563 million. Connect the dots there, and it's pretty apparent that Disney has big plans for both gaming and the App Store. Social networking games are the hottest thing around in terms of in-app purchases, so I would not be at all surprised to see Disney combine its brands and marketing experience with Playdom's online gaming savvy and Tapulous' iPhone development talent in order to go big on some major free-to-play titles for the iPad and iPhone.

And let's not forget that a certain black-turtlenecked CEO happens to be on Disney's board of directors, too. I doubt that he's solely masterminding any of these purchases, but Jobs would definitely have the access and intelligence to see the power of free downloads on the App Store, and how those apps can use programs like iAds and in-app purchases to make a big splash. I expect we'll see some really big initiatives by Disney thanks to these Tapulous and Playdom purchases -- it's only a matter of time.

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