MTV Networks climbs aboard Social Express

Viacom moves into social gaming with new acquisition

MTV Networks is the latest media firm to join the social gaming gold rush. The Viacom-owned company revealed today that it had acquired San Francisco-based developer Social Express, Inc.

MTV's intention is to create social network games based on its own characters and programmes, as well as brands from Nickelodeon and some new IP. Social Express will initally be merged into Nickelodeon Interactive.

The first fruit of this union will be released in the third quarter of this year, and in addition MTV Networks plans to create a publishing portal for independent developers.

"Social gaming is one of the biggest drivers of the explosive growth in social media - it's fun, it's engaging, and it's shareable," said Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks.

"Social Express brings us strong experience and know-how in this burgeoning space, which we'll supercharge with the IP and scale of Nickelodeon and other MTV Networks brands to create great new social gaming experiences for our fans and cool tools for independent developers as well."

Social Express counts among its staff creatives and executives from the likes of Zynga, Apple, Yahoo! and AOL.

Following the acquisition, co-founder and CEO Tony Espinoza will become vice president and general manager of Social Gaming for MTV Networks' Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group. Neil Souza, co-founder of Social Express and FoulPlay Media, will be made vice president of Technology, Social Games.

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