There is a new casual gaming network in town that’s got some serious cross-platform chops. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy graphics. Today, Mytopia is simultaneously launching across Facebook, Bebo, MySpace (currently pending approval) and its own Website with eight games (Chess, Backgammon, Sudoku, Dominoes, Bingo, Spades, Hearts, Video Poker). On Monday, it will release the same games across the major Web and desktop widgets: iGoogle Gadgets, Apple Dashboard Widgets, Yahoo Widgets and Windows Vista Toolbar Widgets.
Here’s the thing: the games work across all of these platforms. You can be on Facebook playing cards with one friend on MySpace and another on Bebo. And you can control what people on each network see about you. For instance, you can present your real profile to your friends on Facebook, and a different Mytopia avatar to everyone else. These are the sort of apps that could one day break Facebook’s, or any social network’s, hold on its members.
Mytopia was founded by a young Israeli American, Guy Ben-Artzi, and his sister Galia Ben-Artzi. They grew up in Silicon Valley, but now split their time between the U.S. and Israel. Nearly all the company’s engineers are in Israel. Guy wants to bring the computing architecture and game-play behind massively multiplayer online (MMO) games like World of Warcraft to casual games with broader appeal. Guy explains:
What we have done over the past year is look at all the massive multiplayers and tried to analyze what makes those sticky and social. What is great about all of these massive multiplayers is you have people playing in guilds and trading with each other. We are building the MMO backend minus the 3D perspective and hard core genre.
Mytopia games include the ability to join teams, compete in matches, send in-game messages, win points for different skill levels, collect virtual currency and trade in-game items with other players. The company plans to explore different ways to make money including in-game sponsorships, premium subscriptions, and micro-transactions linked to game items and the in-game economy.
In May, the startup plans to open up its casual gaming platform to other developers. By delivering this write-once, deploy-anywhere capability, it hopes to challenge other social gaming networks with platform ambitions such as Zynga and SGN. This should be fun to watch.