Lifetime Buys S. Korean Dress-Up Site Roiworld, Launches New Gaming Studio

imageLifetime Networks is expanding its casual gaming with the acquisition of South Korean dress-up site Roiworld for an undisclosed amount and the simultaneous launch of Lifetime Games Studio Korea. Lifetime, a 50-50 joint venture of Hearst and The Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Company, plans to launch a U.S. version of Roiworld.com in early 2009. The site mixes “casual” virtual worlds, user-generated content and social networking with fashion. Lifetime says the Korean version had 2.8 million uniques and 117 million page views in September, with visitors averaging 50 minutes a month. At the same time, Lifetime is investing further in casual gaming by launching Lifetime Games Studio Korea with headquarters in Seoul and a San Francisco office focused on biz dev, technology and sales. Lots more after the jump…

Roiworld founder Kiseo Kim will head the new studio as CEO, extending Roiworld and developing new games. Kris Soumas, head of Lifetime Games, adds the new venture to her portfolio. Plans call for integrated ad packages and micro-transaction technology, in addition to more social networking.

It’s the company’s second digital acquisition. The first was ParentsClick in August for a price we reported at about $10 million. But gaming already plays a significant role for Lifetime, with Lifetime Games as the leading content section for myLifetime.com. Lifetime partners with RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) on casual online and downloadable games from Real Arcade, promoting titles and sharing revenue. Lifetime Games also has published its own games with partners. Downloadable game sales were up 100 percent for 2007 over 2006 and the company says growth is still strong in 2008.

A promo of the upcoming site should go live this morning. Tag line: Dress Up Games Are About To Grow Up. Lifetime promises 1,000-plus “fashion and style” games. It’s all about digital escapism, giving women an excuse to play with virtual “paper dolls” and share the results. The same kind of games could be used to promote Lifetime shows — giving the Army Wives makeovers, for instance — but Soumas says that’s not the initial intent.

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