When Tony Pearce sold Player X to mobile content developer Zed for some £10 million ($16 million) at the height of a mini-bubble in May 2009, one big reason for the purchase was Zed’s interest in acquiring an established mobile content aggregation and distribution business. Now Pearce hopes he can repeat the aggregation model with his newest venture, TeePee Games, which announces its launch today with $500,000 (£312,000) in seed funding from a group of private investors.
TeePee, says Pearce, was conceived out of what he sees as a big problem in today’s gaming world: a growing number of platforms but no effective way of searching for games across all of them, and in some cases, within each platform itself: “Just look at Facebook,” which he says has 35,000 games on it. “It’s just not a good place to find games.” He points out that even the most popular games – such as FarmVille, which has been used by 65 million players – have only tapped into a fraction of Facebooks 500-million user base.
— New technology. Pearce says that TeePee has come up with some technology that he believes is a first in the games marketplace: a discovery engine that uses a profile of you – obtained from some simple questions on the TeePee site – that then scans the web and then presents three lists: 10 games you’ve played before, 10 games that are similar to what you’ve played, and 10 games that TeePee thinks you would like based on your profile, but are not necessarily like the ones you’ve played before. (His example is suggesting a particular puzzle game based on the fact that you like Mafia Wars – a conclusion TeePee reaches by aggregating and matching up preferences from lots of other players similar to you.)
— Commercial model. TeePee then redirects the user to the relevant site, where it works on a revenue split based on the cost of the game, or an acquisition fee worked out by the game owner. On Facebook, for example, he says that TeePee can get anywhere from between 50 cents (£0.31) and $3 (£1.87) for each user it introduces to a game. “It depends on the quality of the customer that we send over,” he says. “If they spend money then that money will increase.” TeePee is also selling pre- and post-advertising for Flash-based games; and for games accessed via mobile there is also a share of the download fee.
— TeePee extras. Pearce says that using TeePee will also give users on certain platforms, such as Facebook, access to an extra social toolbar when playing games that allows you to share them with friends and comment with other players.
In addition to Pearce, who is the CEO, other executives in the launch team include chairman Nick Alexander, the former CEO of Sega in Europe and head of Virgin Games, and Simon Jones, former MD of GameJacket, as COO.
When TeePee opens to the public in early 2011, it will be available on PCs and three mobile platforms: BlackBerry, Android and Windows. He says that he is staying away from Apple’s iOS, home of the biggest app store of all, because he thinks there are already a number of app search engines – think Chomp and the like – that have established themselves, and for now he says he wants to stay away from negotiating to become a partner of Apple’s. “We’re trying to find a market that has an opening and an opportunity for it.”