THQ CEO: No need to buy social gaming share

December 2, 2009

Internet social networks like Facebook are the new frontier for video game makers.

But not all companies see a need to buy their way in, as Electronic Arts did with its $275 million purchase of Playfish last month (the deal could be worth as much as $400 million if the company meets certain future financial milestones).

Brian Farrell, the CEO of game maker THQ, believes the barriers to entry to social gaming are low enough that his company doesn’t need to buy a company to get a foothold in the market.

“In our view what they [EA] got was they got a user base, and then we can debate for the next several hours about is that worth $275, $400 million,” he said at the Reuters Media Summit.

“Obviously we think there’s a path to build that in a much more effective return on investment,” he added, when asked whether the EA purchase was worth the money.

THQ currently has three games for Facebook in development, said Farrell, who noted that many of the “mechanics” of social games draw on similar expertise that THQ has developed in the traditional, console-based gaming business.

Farrell would not provide details on the kinds of Facebook games that THQ has in the works, but hinted that some of its existing franchises could make their way to the social sphere.

“Putting some branded games there where you use the intellectual property properly, we can think of some really good ideas of things that could work in that space, where familiarity of the brand does make sense to drive traffic to your particular game,” he said.

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