GameGround officially launched in beta last month and announced a venture capital round of $5.3 million in funding with a promise to “fundamentally revolutionize the way players engage with their game lives.” We spoke with Doug Vance, Vice President of Marketing at GameGround, to discuss what is GameGround, what is this revolution in gaming, and how casual games may be changing in the future.
What is GameGround and how does your game app improve the lives of casual gamers?
GameGround is a lightweight app that connects your gaming life across games and platforms – PC, Web, Facebook, and XBox – while adding a fun, engaging “game of games” to your gameplay activity. GameGround allows you to save your gaming activity, gives you new ways to get rewarded for playing the games you love, and helps you stay connected with what your friends are playing and what they’re achieving. For casual gamers specifically, there are so many great games out there and GameGround helps you discover the most fun ones based on your gameplay preferences and history.
How many games and what platforms does GameGround support? What future games and platforms do you plan to add in the future?
Today GameGround supports over 200 games for the PC, Web, Facebook, and XBox platforms. We add support for new games each week based on activity and requests from our users. In 2011 we will introduce support for the Mac and various mobile platforms.
GameGround requires the user to download and install a game app to get started, which can be a barrier to get a user to try out a service. How big is the game file? Do you think requiring a file to download could slow down adoption of your service and what will you to do encourage users to try the service out?
Heading into 2011, it’s super common for people to install apps on our phones, browsers, and even in our Facebook accounts. The GameGround app works the same way – it’s ultra-lightweight and the download takes seconds.
Of course, we’re confident that when gamers are exposed to our game of games and the other innovative features GameGround offers, they’ll feel the 3 seconds it took to install the app was worth it!
One of the most amazing aspects about your technology is that a GameGround can support a game without requiring the developer having to add code to their game. Aside from magic, how does this work? What does a game developer have to do in order to work with GameGround?
One of our favorite quotes is from Arthur C. Clarke – “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Now, I’m not saying we’re wizards or anything…just that we invested a lot of time and effort developing the technology that helps us create engaging experiences for our users.
There is no work required for developers to get their games on GameGround – right now we’re simply focused on adding the games that our users want to play.
GameGround collects a lot of information on what and how gamers are playing games across multiple platforms. What are the most popular games on GameGround today? What are the most interesting tidbits you have learned since launching the service a month ago that you can share with the Gamezebo audience?
One of the more interesting things we see with our users is that our game of games has really encouraged them to play many different games to level up and earn rewards. Titles like Bejeweled Blitz and Farmville – heavy hitters on Facebook obviously – are very popular with the GameGround user base, but so are some more indie darlings like World of Goo and Canabalt.
Beyond that, it’s early in the life of GameGround, so we simply love seeing how our users are interacting with the missions and rewards we’ve created and we’re constantly learning what motivates them.
GameGround creates missions and offers rewards for gamers on all the games it supports. Is it someone’s job to actually create these missions? How do I get this job (which sounds like the greatest job ever)?
At the moment we are creating the missions that help make up our game of games and yes there are people in our company that are fortunate enough to have that job! Pretty cool, eh? BUT our ultimate goal is to allow every GameGround user to create missions, even you Joel!
Until we’re finished developing the mission-creation tools for all of our users, we love it when users send us ideas for missions they want to see. Passionate players of the games we support are obviously the best source of these mission concepts.
GameGround announced it just raised $5.3 million in series B funding from a who’s who of venture capital firms so you obviously have big plans for the product and app. What future features do you plan to add to GameGround that we can look forward to seeing?
Yeah, we love our investors and we’re psyched that they share in our vision of a gaming world that’s connected no matter what platforms you play games on. We’re still very early in beta, so the focus now is on gathering feedback from our users, monitoring what they like about GameGround, what they don’t like, what they’re missing, etc.
But one thing I can tell you is that adding additional platform support is critically important to us. We have requests to support Mac from literally thousands of our users, and not a day goes by when we don’t hear how cool it would be for GameGround to add support for mobile games. And we agree! So it’s safe to say you’ll see our platform support increasing throughout 2011.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think the future of casual games will be?
I think it’s obvious that what we call “casual games” will continue to grow in popularity. Playing games online with our friends, on our mobile devices when we’re on the go, and just taking a quick 15 minute break to unwind with a game of Bejeweled – these things are here to stay and will only become more popular. I think GameGround is nicely positioned to help gamers unite all of these gaming activities – “casual” or otherwise – to build their true gaming identity, and we love rewarding them for doing so!
Any final words to your fans (or soon to be fans) out there?
GameGround is being built for YOU! We’re in early beta, so please come sign up, check us out and let us know what your hopes and dreams are for your gaming life. We’re constantly publishing fun events and contests on our Facebook page, in our Twitter feed, and on our blog, so make sure to stay tuned!