Jawfish Games, a Seattle-based startup run by a former professional poker player and the engineering team that built the Fult Tilt Poker site, launched a gaming platform that can host more than 100,000 simultaneous players in real-time tournaments across iOS, Android and the web.
While asynchronous, turn-based games have done well on mobile platforms and Facebook over the last five years, pure, real-time multiplayer games haven't caught on as quickly partially because data connections haven't been fast enough and because a game developer would need a critical mass of players to match them synchronously.
But Jawfish, which has raised $3.65 million in funding from firms like Founders Fund's angel fund, Right Side Capital and other angels, says it has built a platform to do just that. Their platform can support more than 100,000 simultaneous players and host 1 million tournaments for less than $10 in bandwidth.
They initially came out with a few games in partnership with Seattle's Big Fish Games, but now they're bringing out more of their own titles.
Because Jawfish's CEO Phil Gordon is a championship professional poker career who has hosted The World Series of Poker and published five books on the game, the company is doing a poker game (of course). The poker game is designed to have the look and feel of a broadcasted game with Gordon's running commentary throughout play.
They've also launched a basic word search game, called Jawfish Words, that lets players compete on the getting the highest scores, finding the longest words or the most diagonals. There more obscure goals too, like finding the most words with a single vowel. They launched that game last month through a partnership with Amazon. The company has pointed out some promising stats: the average player spends 21 minutes and plays 10.7 tournaments a day. Each tournament is about 60 to 90 seconds long.
They plan to building out a suite of classic games, from casual to casino titles that make use of the platform. “Basically what we're looking to do is to take games that people know and love and reinvent them for multiplayer real-time tournaments,” Gordon said. “That's exactly what we're going to do across a wide spectrum of games.”
While Jawfish hasn't opened its platform up to third-party developers, there are other gaming networks that add multi-player mode to indie titles that are blowing up. Nextpeer, an Israeli startup, went from having just a few games in its network to well over 1,000 developers in the last several months.
“Barring a top 10-kind of franchise wanting to use our platform for multiplayer mode, it's incredibly unlikely that we're going to work with other studios,” Gordon said. “Certainly not for anything but the top tier. We know that our platform is the only one of its kind in the world and we think that it's in our interest to keep the platform close to the vest and develop our own games.”