Sequoia Capital Gets Serious About Fantasy

Challenge Games, the maker of fantasy fighting game Duels and fantasy baseball game Baseball Boss, has raised a $4.5 million first round of funding from Sequoia Capital. Sequoia’s Roelof Botha has also joined the Challenge Games board of directors.

Duels, where users create fantasy characters and fight other players asynchronously, first launched last year and scaled so quickly it brought the site to a crawl for weeks. Even so, a million deaths a day were occurring on Duels by December 2007.

Baseball Boss, which uses the same underlying engine as Duels, beta launched last week. Users create baseball teams based on real MLB players (they have a licensing deal in place with major league baseball).

Normal gameplay is free, but users can pay to upgrade players. A significant percentage of users actually do pay to get that special sword, spell or baseball player, the company says. Based on my own brief but intense “testing” of Duels last year, I can say that the games are very addictive. I had to quit cold turkey when it began to affect my productivity.

Challenge Games’ founder and CEO Andrew Busey was the co-founder of Pluck, which Demand Media bought in March for $75 million.