Casual gaming on the Web is quickly moving to the social networks, where people can play with their friends. Just this week, multiplayer casual games site Geewa launched three of its most popular games on Facebook: 8-ball Pool, Backgammon, and Reversi (which is the same as the board game Othello).
Geewa, based in Prague (disclosure: it is a sponsor of an upcoming Crunch Meetup there) , is making some unique moves in the multiplayer casual game space. Namely, Geewa’s games are live, head to head games, also known as synchronous games. Most multiplayer games are asynchronous, like chess, where each player takes a turn at their leisure. Synchronous games happen more or less at the same time, with players moving in parallel and comparing scores after each round (“Who has the Biggest Brain” is a typical example).
Another nice feature of the Geewa games is that they allow players to challenge their friends via Facebook chat directly to play a live game. So now you can really play against your friends instead of playing with random people. If none of your friends are available, and since the games are connected to Geewa’s multiplayer server, you can always find a random player if need be. Geewa’s CEO Cedric Maloux says that at peak time, the site’s multiplayer server handles more than 18,500 concurrent players (though mostly from Europe), making it easy to find a worthy opponent.
A community platform for casual gaming, Geewa was founded in 2005 and raised $2.2 million in Series A funding from Poland’s MCI Ventures. Cedric Maloux, the former founder and CEO of deadpooled browser-based file-sharing service AllPeers, joined Geewa two months ago as CEO. Available in five languages, Geewa is popular in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Germany and uses Facebook Connect. Geewa monetizes via pre-roll ads.
Geewa’s user base is still small compared to social casual gaming networks like Zynga, Playfish, and Mytopia, which both give users the opportunity to connect to several social networks besides Facebook, including MySpace and Bebo. It can be difficult to be a small fish in a big sea of casual gaming sites. Zynga boasts more than 7 million daily users and 30 million monthly users for its games. But Facebook is popular internationally, and perhaps Geewa’s new apps can leverage its European roots to score high in those markets.