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Summary:

Ohai has grand ambitions of jumpstarting an industry for social massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. Think World of Warcraft crossed with FarmVille — engaging and rich, but also easy to use and social. Check out our latest GigaOM studio interview with Ohai CEO Susan Wu.

Ohai has grand ambitions of jumpstarting an industry for social massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. Think World of Warcraft crossed with FarmVille — engaging and rich, but also easy to use and social. The San Francisco-based company has a great ambassador in CEO Susan Wu, a former venture capitalist who became fascinated by the emerging market for virtual goods, then teamed up with MMO tech wizard Don Neufeld, formerly of Sony Online Entertainment, and raised $6 million from August Capital and Rustic Canyon Partners. But it still has a long way to go.

Ohai’s first game, the vampire-themed City of Eternals, came out in November and has 40,000 players across Facebook and the web, and its second game, Project Unicorn Parade (“an evocative, interactive world environment” with animals, says Wu), is coming soon. Ohai needs to be prolific, efficient and innovative to take on gaming heavyweights like EA and new juggernauts like Zynga, while growing its user base and revenue per user. So the company has tried to make itself nimble, building a platform for Flash-based games that can be tweaked and expanded on the fly and transformed completely to build a separate game (Ohai aims to release eight games per year). “I don’t view us as being in the content business,” said Wu. “I view as as being in web services, where we look at things like data and conversion rates.”

We offered Ohai the chance to come in and show us what they’ve got, so they offered the one-two punch of Wu talking about the company and what it represents, combined with a Ohai content designer coming along to build, in pseudo real time, a virtual representation of the GigaOM office beset by “PR zombies” as a mission for City of Eternals. It’s a little hokey, to be sure, but it got me playing the game! If you’d like to help Om and I fight the PR zombies yourself, click here. The video of our chat with Wu is embedded above.

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By Liz Gannes

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  1. Liz – thanks for taking the time to chat with us!

    I just wanted to clarify one thing – we’ve been in private, invite-only alpha for the past few months with 40,000 users via Facebook. We’re just now emerging into an open beta. We will be in beta for a few more months during which we’ll be polishing and iterating. Then after this several month beta period, we’ll go live with viral and customer acquisition channels.

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  2. That game is in pretty poor taste. The PR field is made up of hard-working people that help companies communicate effectively with their customers and communities, helping drive our economy. As far as GigaOm is concerned, your job would be considerably harder without the PR professionals out there who bring you your stories. If you didn’t get pre-briefed in anything, you would be an instant also-ran in technology media.

    So this company, which sounds like it has the same ethical compass as Zynga (i.e. a broken one), has a coming out party making fun and disparaging an industry that is probably the single largest source of GigaOm’s content. If Susan Wu were wiser, she would take some of that investment capital and put it into the services of a PR firm. She obviously doesn’t understand what effective communications are.

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    1. @meks – I’m sure Susan and her team weren’t referring to all PR people, just the zombie ones! She does have a PR firm that helped facilitate getting her over to our office. :)

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  3. Ilan Ben Menachem Friday, March 12, 2010

    Everyone can play free online games.Online trend is increasing day by day in every country and its becoming huge part of income.there are so many types of games.Every one whats the aim of (Ohai aims to release eight games per year)

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  4. If you haven’t noticed, this game is dead. Ohai stopped development, nearly all its quoted 40,000 players are gone. This game is broken and so is Ohai.

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