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 (s sne) 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 (s erts) 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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