If there’s one thing gamers love more than pwning their opponents, it’s publicly bragging about it afterward. That’s the dynamic that should help popularize GameStrata, a new social network for gamers launching this week that’s backed by seed money from “top-tier venture firms in Silicon Valley,” according to co-founder and CEO Lance Smith (though he declined to specify which VCs.) It’s a bit like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, only cross-platform and web-centric.
“We provide leaderboards, player rankings, and persistent, comprehensive statistics for popular online games,” Smith explained to me via email, “allowing players to track their progress and compare their performance in games on a variety of platforms.” GameStrata has signed deals to publish player stats of several popular games, including Activision’s Guitar Hero 3 (pictured) and EA’s Battlefield 2, and in a smart move that may make it the universal social network for gamers, will feature player-driven platform stats from the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii consoles as well.
Initially, the company’s main revenue stream will be ad-based, including leaderboard-specific promotions and sponsorships. “I believe we’ve innovated beyond just the standard banner several years ago,” Smith observed. More compelling revenue generators may come down the road. They have three integrated Facebook apps (here’s the one for Guitar Hero III), for example, and they’re looking at statistics packaging for businesses.
From my point of view, that may be the most attractive value proposition — an aggregated collection of play data that allows game developers to better reach this coveted demographic. Smith hints at similar leveraging of “GamerQ,” GameStat’s own native point system. “GamerQ is a way to gain community ‘reputation’ or rank up within the community of GameStrata,” he explained. “It’s a simple points system to identify things you are doing and achieving within GameStrata.” His team is playing with the idea of introducing virtual item rewards, but at minimum, the desire to earn GamerQ points should help keep the site sticky. With so many other game-centric social networks rolling out nowadays (as here, here, and here), GameStata’s real challenge is dominating in this all-out war for gamers’ attention.