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Microsoft to hook Facebook game maker?

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Microsoft's interest in social networks could see the company buy Facebook games company CrowdStar.

In a report with more hedging than Hampton Court's maze, Bloomberg said a deal "may" be weeks away and that venture funded CrowdStar "might" choose to remain independent.

CrowdStar, maker of the Happy Aquarium game, "may" be valued at $200m the report said.

Why Microsoft would want to buy this relatively small Web-2.0 game company is unclear. The company already has a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook, having put $240m into the company in 2007 and reached an exclusive advertising deal in 2007.

Last week, that deal was restructured, with Microsoft no longer handling display ads for Facebook.

CrowdStar not the largest maker of games on Facebook. That title belongs to Zynga, whose FarmVille and Café World are Facebook's number one and two games with 230 million monthly users.

Microsoft has its own MSN Games operation with more than 1,000 games that can be played through a browser. And last week, Zynga agreed to let users of MSN Games use its games. ®

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