PlayCafe Funded for Web Game Shows

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PlayCafe, a company we uncovered last year, is expanding its live game show offerings, raising funding, opening a studio in Los Angeles, and has hired a producer with experience at Endemol and CBS.

PlayCafe produces an interactive weeknight online game show, with a live host reading questions, chatting with players, and commenting on the game. It is expanding from two to four hours next week, running 5 to 9 p.m. PT. The company, which is also making an embeddable widget version of its games, boasts an average playing session of 86 minutes, with 250 to 300 players per night. Prizes range from an iTunes song to $1000 cash.

Playcafe CEO Mark Goldenson has a pretty convincing rationale for his venture. “When I look at the landscape of Internet content, it’s mostly passive content,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s great that I can watch Lost whenever I want, but it’s not interactive or social. [Meanwhile,] the main use of live streaming has been life-streaming, like Justin.tv or Chris Pirillo, and I just don’t think that’s compelling, and I think that’s borne out by the viewership.”

Goldenson said 10 to 20 percent of PlayCafe visitors just watch the game rather than playing themselves, which is interesting in and of itself, but especially when compared to television game shows.

We’d heard elsewhere that First Round Capital had made an investment in the company, which Goldenson confirmed, though he declined to state the amount as he said the funding round is still open. While we think this is a cool idea, we’re surprised the company was able to raise cash with such low user numbers. But Goldenson and his partner Dev Nag have had success with previous startups, and also have PayPal and Google on their resumes.

Goldenson, who said the company’s goal is to run games around the clock, vouched that newly hired producer Jon Lawrence, who ran Take the Cake and Midnight Money Madness for Endemol, will bring a “better look and feel” to the site. Goldenson called the current set-up (see embed above) “authentic but not very sophisticated.”

Last week we wrote about another funded startup looking to combine casual gaming and web trivia, but that one’s called PopJax, and does on-demand trivia games rather than live shows.

13 Comments

Jack

You ought to check out wedigtv in this field (i.e. interactive gameshows). We have over 2m monthly users in the UK, but the more the merrier in this space. Good luck Playcafe!

Hutchess

Wow ! Fantastic news ! What progress you guys are making ! You know I love the game, the interaction, and you guys ! This type of gaming, I believe to be the wave of the future and I really feel fortunate to be somewhat on the groundfloor for once ! So ~ Keep it up ! It’s soooo addicting, I’m not sure I’d know what to do with my evenings if it weren’t for you guys and the rest of the playas :) Thanks for all you do ! Congrats on the funding !

nomad2174

This is the most awesome after work release there is on the web. Also all of the cast members are down to earth and very real people. They aren’t stuck up and they all know how to interact with real humans and real human issues. I’ve made lots of great friends on playcafe including players and the cast and I can think of no better way to spend the hours of 6pm and 8pm pst when I can when work isn’t calling..Also Alrik is the man. He’s the coolest cat in the world…Holla.. NOMAD2174. I’m a regular and they know me..

Guitargeek21

Playcafe really is the fun of the internet, Great staff members including Alrik, Collin, Katie, Daniella in which you all see almost every weeknight. The Co Founders Mark and Dev, totally awesome guys, thank you. And of course Chad, everyone loves Chad Mosher, known for being the first special guest, a great trivia question writer, and now the King Kong of the Leaderboards! And the contestants, totally hip crowd, there is a little of everything on playcafe, so just do yourself a favor and play!

Bobdog1021

PlayCafe has introduced me to a whole new realm of people, (who I know consider friends) that I can talk to while playing and also help play the game. The games are crazy fun and although I’ve yet to win, I still play everynight if only for the entertainment! Thank you PlayCafe for introducing me to a new group of friends and a good laugh or two, or several every night!

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