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Viacom Buys Xfire For $102 Million

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the that's-a-lot-of-quarters dept.

29

The New York Times is reporting that communications company Viacom has purchased the Xfire gaming network for $102 Million. From the article: "Judy McGrath, the chief executive of MTV Networks, which will oversee Xfire, said it would stay focused on building a community for game players, but its technology might be adapted for broader network services. Xfire has attracted four million users since it was introduced in 2004. Of those, one million are active and spend 91 hours each month using the service. The company sells advertising on its software and Web site, both to video game makers and to mass market marketers, including Dodge, Pepsi and Unilever."

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29 comments

The Article (2, Informative)

metrunecs (956777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15195875)

Viacom to Pay $102 Million for an Online Game Service By SAUL HANSELL Viacom said yesterday that it had acquired Xfire, a Silicon Valley company that makes an instant message system used by video game players, continuing its quest to build Internet businesses focused on young people. The company, which is the parent of MTV Networks, will pay $102 million in cash for Xfire, which is privately held. Xfire makes a program similar to other instant message systems in that it lets users communicate with each other while they are online. Its system, however, is designed for people who play game software on their computers. Users can see which games their friends are playing and can automatically link to join them in playing games online. "We want to be where our audience is," Viacom's chief executive, Tom Freston, said. "And we know that video games are a dominant form of media for young males." Xfire has some aspects in common with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, another area in which Viacom hopes to expand. Viacom explored acquiring MySpace and IGN, large game-oriented networks of Web sites; both were bought last year by the News Corporation. Judy McGrath, the chief executive of MTV Networks, which will oversee Xfire, said it would stay focused on building a community for game players, but its technology might be adapted for broader network services. Xfire has attracted four million users since it was introduced in 2004. Of those, one million are active and spend 91 hours each month using the service. The company sells advertising on its software and Web site, both to video game makers and to mass market marketers, including Dodge, Pepsi and Unilever. For those selling games, Xfire will allow ads to be shown only to those who frequently play similar games. It also distributes previews of games on behalf of publishers. Viacom declined to disclose Xfire's revenue. Ms. McGrath said that Viacom was looking for more acquisitions related to games, networking and user created content. Last fall, Viacom bought GameTrailers.com, another site devoted to video about games. Viacom has some video game programming on on its other Internet sites. And it bought Neopets, an interactive fantasy world for young children, which has advertising integrated into the game.

Re:The Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15195972)

Ohwow, this reads so much easier than the original text, and I think your nice formatting plays part in that: Also, it is indeed something quite challengeable to click on the link to the article: Thanks again...karmawhore

Re:The Article (1)

Atomm (945911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196265)

Dear Anonymous Coward....

For free access to this article and more, you must be a registered member of NYTimes.com.

Some of us don't like registering....

Re:The Article (1)

NotWorkSafe (891638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197445)

Dear Atomm...

www.bugmenot.com [bugmenot.com]

As a casual X-fire user, I welcome our overloads (4, Funny)

EaglesNest (524150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15195896)

"The company sells advertising on its software and Web site, both to video game makers and to mass market marketers, including Dodge, Pepsi and Unilever.

I can't wait to be playing Quake 4 or FEAR and get fragged. Suddenly, rather than hear my opponent or teammate, I hear a disembodied voice say, "You got wasted! How about you clean yourself up with Lever 2000, the soap that gets bloodstains our of anything! For all your 2000 parts, no matter where the frags end up!"

Re:As a casual X-fire user, I welcome our overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196033)

If they had advertisements that are related to what happened, making puns on other commercials, I would get a few laughs out of it. The issue would be if the ads are shown/heard too often. That would ruin any grunt/giggle/over-zealous laughter that would come with it.

Advertising? Feh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15195945)

I don't respond to advertising for mainstream products. Therefore, Viacom, proprietors of so-called "Music" "Television," will have one more property in which I am not interested.

Erm... (1)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15195959)

As a games programmer and non-US gamer, I've never heard of this XFire lot until now. A quick look at their website doesn't give me a real idea of what it is that they do, anyone fancy illuminating me as to why someone would buy this company? :)

Re:Erm... (1)

Jupix (916634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15195989)

It's a gamers' chat software.. Seems like it's got a rather large user base which makes it a great place to advertise, no wonder a big firm buys it. Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Erm... (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196003)

I Am a US-Gamer and ive never heard of it either.

Re:Erm... (1)

simonjp (970013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196014)

From my [brief] experience of Xfire, it lists all your friends you've added, and what they are playing, and what multiplayer games they have installed. It also lists their friends too - to add a little more spice to it all. AFAIK you can click to invite someone to play a game with you and I imagine it will load and do some connections for you (although I dont know if it does).

Basically - imagine MSN Gaming zone combined with Friendster in a [insert favourite instant messenger] setting.

Re:Erm... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196056)

Imagine, if you will, a company founded on synergistic paradigm shifting. That's what Xfire brings to the Viacom table. Their action plan is mission-critical to the next steps in the challenges of off the shelf deliverables. They are a proactive platform of performance measurements in pushing the envelope to facilitate right-sizing solutions and strategies in the run up to knowledge transfer in video games. They are a goal-oriented, engaged, client-focused business on the same page as MTV and Viacom in moving forward into the repurposing video games to find the golden thread of connectivity and the seamless skills transfer of where the rubber hits the road. The acquisition of Xfire by Viacom will impact the top of mind of millions of go-to teenagers with capital to spend. I don't believe I have to explain further the value-added incentives, let alone the totallity of the leveraging vision set forth here. At the end of the day, it's really about multi-tasking the blue sky thinking by the COB.

If you still don't understand what they do, then I guess it just doesn't register on your radar screen, and there's no sense in moving the goal posts or elaborating on the metrics of the mapping.

Re:Erm... (1)

NighthawkFoo (16928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196131)

If Slashdot had a buzzword filter, your post would have caused it to dump core.

Re:Erm... (1)

Workshed (838497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196220)

I'm a non-US gamer and our clan of ~30 use it. It basically acts as an IM but with the ability to "follow" friends into the server they are playing on online. So instead of several of us logging on to team speak to read out an IP address over and over until we've all heard it right we can just click "follow" and xfire launches the appropriate game into the same server as your mate. It has, however, got a GUI that looks like it was dropped at birth... this was initially the only reason some clan members chose not to use it but they soon came round ;)

Re:Erm... (1)

Erik Fish (106896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196361)

Being able to easily join your friends on a game server is nice, but what really attracted me to Xfire was the ability to receive and reply to messages while playing games. Most IM clients can't deal with that and will either leave incoming messages in the background (where you discover them upon exiting the game) or grab focus, abuptly returning you to the desktop.

Re:Erm... (1)

MayonakaHa (562348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196613)

I hadn't heard of XFire until a friend of mine pointed it out to me, and I'm a rather frequent online gamer. Basically it allows you to see what game and server your friends are playing on and by clicking their name then the join game button, allows you to immediately join their server. Also it has some minor voice chat if I remember correctly. But one of the best features is that the IM chat can be brought up as an overlay in the game you're playing by hitting a hotkey combo. You access everything with the keyboard when in a game, including which friends your talking to. Plus whenever you get a new message when your IM window is not activated, it pops up an alert box in the lower right corner of your screen.

Re:Erm... (1)

Woy (606550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196942)

Xfire is an instant messenger whose only claim to fame is that it has an ingame interface, that overlays over your game and allows you to chat without alt-tabbing. It has a bunch of irrelevant features better done elsewhere, but that interface feature has made xfire a must have in the gaming community i play on - Battlefield 2.

Re:Erm... (1)

dshaw858 (828072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15199078)

I think that so far most of you are showing the general idea of what xfire does, but not some of it's main features. First of all, it saves all of the servers you visit with xfire-supported games, and lets you join them with a simple click. Xfire also allows you to download files (such as patches or gaming movies or demos, etc.) in a bittorrent-like file downloader, which works very efficiently. xfire also allows you to chat in-game, as many of you have said.
What you haven't said (or at least that I've seen) is that xfire gives you a user profile that logs all of the games that you play, and for how long you play them. For me (a gamer), this is a really really cool piece of software. I think it's awesome to watch my gaming trends; some, however, think it's sad to see all of the hours that they're wasting away. My profile is here [xfire.com] , and my cool xfire-signature-image-thing (great for gaming forums is here [xfire.com] .

In my opinion, xfire is a great piece of software, and one that I use pretty much all the time that I'm at my desktop. I'm glad they're getting business (well, getting bought...), but I sure hope Viacom doesn't change the product too much...

- dshaw

'broader network services'? (3, Interesting)

pkw111 (136176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196039)

When they say said it would stay focused on building a community for game players, but its technology might be adapted for broader network services.

what do you think that will entail? I am concerned about bloating.

Xfire is an amazing program, and most people I know online use it constantly, but it's memory footprint has been growing far too quickly. Right now it's using 25MB RAM. For most people who run demanding games, this is a significant chunk of RAM.

The only reason I have heard people not using this program is because of it's use of RAM.

I am concerned 'broader services' will mean this problem will get even worse. One can only hope they make some optimizations to dynamically grab more RAM when they need it. I only use tha basic components of xfire, like the friend status list and the test messageing. They support a myriad of otehr features like voice chat and video, etc, but I dont want those features loaded!

Re:'broader network services'? (1)

wyndairn (938911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197324)

I actually think the broader network services may be entirely unrelated to the current xfire application...there was a quote in an article written about Xfire a bit ago... "The company's aims to expand onto other platforms, including console games -- it is working on something for the PlayStation 3 -- and cellphones." http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/17/technology/fastfor ward_fortune/index.htm [cnn.com]

Re:'broader network services'? (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15198486)

I'm betting that this will kill XFire within 12-18 months due to mismanagement by Viacom who will want to squeeze profits out of XFire by swamping it with ads.

If you want to talk bloat, let's talk AIM which has become a very large CPU hog over the past 2 years. I used to leave AIM up and running in the background. It used to have a minimal memory footprint and never consumed CPU cycles. But lately, I've disabled it permanently due to all of the RAM/CPU that it was eating up *in the background while hidden*.

It's a real pity, because XFire is very handy for building networks of gaming friends and seeing where they are playing. I've had zero issues with it and it's come in handy.

Re:'broader network services'? (1)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15198510)

Here's another reason: it frequently disconnects itself (doesn't like NATs?), and when it does so the program steals focus from whatever game I'm playing, even if they're in fullscreen mode. Honestly, you'd think a program aimed at gamers would be a little more clever about that sort of thing.

I still use Xfire, because it's the only IM client that lets me keep in contact with friends when one or both of us is in a game, but I disable it if we're gaming together.

Re:'broader network services'? (1)

wyndairn (938911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15198543)

Xfire shouldn't steal focus on disconnect (doesn't for me or any of my friends), so you may want to swing by their tech support forums or something....they might want some info on it. Also, Xfire's never used more than 13 MB of RAM on my machine, and usually runs with about 8-10 MB. 25 MB sounds a little ridiculous, unless maybe you're operating as the voice chat host or something?

Re:'broader network services'? (1)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15200498)

Techincally it's usually stealing focus at reconnect, and in Galciv 2, BF2, Oblivion and a host of other popular games. I'll get on their tech support forums some time I'm bored.

Re:'broader network services'? (1)

pkw111 (136176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15200554)

I have used it for a dozen full screen games, and have never it had it steal focus. Granted it has never had issues with my NAT boxes either. It has only disconnected twice, when the server was upgrading. But I don't think I was gaming then so I dont know what would have happenned.

Possible blunder? (2, Insightful)

zaguar (881743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196067)

What's to stop a company, or a bunch of disenfranchised users, creating a free alternative to XFire? I'm not familiar with the technology used, but it is a tracker that determines what game you are playing, when, isn't it? In that case, if Viacom choose to go with embedded ads/possible spyware and adware, then it would be almost trivial with a large community movement to create a "Y-Fire" without the ads, wouldn't it? So any revenue attempts by Viacom would lose them money. Bad move IMHO.

Re:Possible blunder? (1)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196582)

It's really not that complex. There is a guy out there who created something similar to XFire but it runs over Jabber. You can find it at http://goim.us./ [goim.us.] My only complaint about the software was it was created in Java which is a pain for RAM usage but if your C++ programmer you could piggy back on top of jabber and just have to create game monitoring system. Just no one has done it yet.

Bubble2.0 (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196232)

$102 per head customer acquisition cost?

They'd better sell a shitload of advertising.

advertizers dream (3, Insightful)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196895)

Its an advertizers dream. You get a system that narrows down a specific group of interested gamers, and it tracks what games people are playing, so you know what games people play, how much the play, and once you data mine that, you can target ads, based on what other gamers who are playing the same games.

i would say for an established user base, and a decent technology, and a fat cheque for Thresh thats a good deal imo.
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