Attack of the Casual Gaming Sites

[qi:002] Last week saw a veritable explosion of launches and news centered around companies that are merging social networks, cash payouts and gaming. It’s the new frontier, apparently. Anyway we had trouble keeping them all straight and we figured you may have, too, so here’s a brief roundup of the newer players in this space.

iWON

  • The Pitch: Users collect tokens by playing games, then submit the tokens for sweepstakes prizes.
  • The Money: Backed by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp.
  • The Take:
    With that kind of corporate backing, this one is here to stay. Its content bears some resemblance to that of other big sites (MSN Games, for example), but with the promise of prizes — some of them in the form of cold, hard cash.
  • Kickplay

  • The Pitch: Free, web-based casual games that people can personalize by uploading their own images and sounds (or images and sounds they choose from the shared library), and then share on the web. Game developers get a revenue share cut.
  • The Money: Self-funded by entrepreneur Kendall Kunz.
  • The Take: Until they get more developers in there with some new games in different genres, the personalization of really basic games has limited appeal.
  • Moola

  • The Pitch: Visitors get a penny to start, then climb a pyramid of prize money that doubles with each win (much like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”). The winnings top out at over $10 million — but you’d have to win 30 games in a row to collect that.
  • The Money: Backed by 3Genius.
  • The Take: Get paid to play games and look at advertising? Cool — but how will we know that the system won’t cheat? Read the TechCrunch buzz.
  • Wipido

  • The Pitch: Compete with other gamers for cash playing the games you already have, and record your wins on the embedded video player to share with your community. The interaction may be casual but the games themselves are core enthusiast games chosen by the users.
  • The Money: Parent company Minoto Entertainment Europe, which is funded by Lunatech Ventures.
  • The Take: Wagering money on matches over the Internet in a real way is bound to lead to some trouble, but will undoubtedly appeal to the most enthusiastic players.
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