Casual Game MMO Startup Gets $500K Angel Funding

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SeattleThat’s the word from the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, reporting on FlowPlay, a Seattle-based startup from Derrick Morton, formerly an exec with RealNetworks. Aiming for a public launch in June, FlowPlay is described as a virtual world centered around casual games. The PI’s John Cook notes that Philip Rosedale is also an alum of Real— he was CTO in its dot com heyday, before going on to found Linden Lab/Second Life. The implication is that this new startup will be playing in the same space, but not a thing about user-created content is mentioned in the PI article, so the analogy seems like a bit of a stretch. FlowPlay sounds less like Second Life, and more like a teen-oriented version of the enormously successful Puzzle Pirates from Three Rings. But that could be a very good thing.

For inspiration, the article goes on, Morton is looking to Club Penguin, an MMO for kids, which now claims a million monthly unique visitors. Penguin came up during my SXSW talk, along with RuneScape, as examples of Web-based and/or kid-focused MMOs few people in the industry talk about, but are doing quite well, thank you very much. There’s a tremendous market for MMOs powered by the Web which don’t require a retail software purchase and a high-end computer. In that regard, FlowPlay is going to have a lot of competition in this next generation of casual/web-driven online worlds, from Three Rings’ Whirled, to Raph Koster’s Areae. Taken together, this seems to be where the smart money for future MMOs is going— ceding the large client/monthly subscriber field to World of Warcraft, and instead, setting up shop in the low-budget, try-free, play-now Web.

(Hat tip: Raph.)

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