RealNetworks’ GameHouse Buys Social Game Developer Backstage

RealNetworks’ GameHouse games unit, which has said it wants to improve its position in social games, is buying up social game developer Backstage Technologies. Backstage has developed several original titles for Facebook, include lottery game Scratch and Win and music app Vinyl City. It’s best known, however, for a social game version of Family Feud, which has accumulated more than 6 million users on Facebook. It developed that title with casual game developer iWin.

GameHouse has historically focused on downloadable and online games, but in May it launched a new social gaming platform designed to make it easy for game developers to publish games to gaming portals and also to the major social networking sites. In its announcement of the Backstage acquisition, RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) says the startup will “contribute to several of the key technological components of the system” and also “add valuable expertise in both engineering and monetizing games for social platforms.”

CEO Robert Kimball said this spring that RealNetworks — which is in the midst of a major restructuring — was turning its attention to a long-planned spin off of its game business. More recently, however, Kimball said the company was in no “rush” to shed the unit, although he has described the need to improve its position in online and social games as “urgent.” In the announcement today, Kimball says. “the most compelling growth opportunity in games today is social games, and this acquisition is part of our commitment to make our entire GameHouse business social.”