Gourmet Ranch’s Playdemic Raises $4M Led By IBM’s Watson Family For Cross-Platform Social Gaming

Playdemic, a UK-based developer of social games, has announced a $4 million round of funding from a group of investors, with $3 million of that from the Watson family — the grandchildren of IBM founder Thomas Watson. The funding, it says, will be used to develop its idea of “second-generation social games” — that is, cross-platform games that will be interoperable between TVs, tablets, smartphones, the web and Facebook –with at least four new games coming this year. This can be taken as a sign that, although the world’s largest social gaming company may have had a knock in the markets after its last disappointing earnings, social gaming is still attracting investor attention, when the developers are bringing something new to the table.

As part of the deal, David Watson becomes a non-executive director at Playdemic.

As with other social games developers, Playdemic got its start on Facebook with titles like Gourmet Ranch, which currently has 700,000 monthly active users, and Crossword Buddies. However, now the company is pushing hard on the concept of cross-platform entertainment, with some 10 million regular players of its games across PC, web and mobile platforms, it says. This is a key area, because for the most part, games — even social games — are still siloed on different platforms.

“Social games present an incredible opportunity for companies like Playdemic who understand that social is more than just one platform or destination,” Playdemic founder Paul Gouge said in a statement. “This funding not only validates where we believe we can take this business, but it gives us the vital resources to accelerate our roadmap and keep growing our community of Playdemic gamers. The future of social games has potential far beyond where we are today.”

And there is another reason for looking at platforms beyond Facebook: the social network has just become too damn crowded.

“While the barriers to entry may have risen when it comes to gaining traction via Facebook, smart companies realise that the potential for social games is only at its very beginning,” noted Watson in a statement. “Paul and the Playdemic team are definitely a company that understands this, and that’s why we are investing in them so they can hopefully realise their potential.”

Part of the interest in Playdemic may be about it current user numbers and multi-platform social gaming vision, but it is also about backing a successful entrepreneur who already had experience working on different platforms.

The company was founded in 2010 by Gouge, who had created the massively multiplayer online game Battlemail, as well as Rockpool, which developed games for mobile licensing titles that had been hits in other formats. Both of these companies were sold to Eidos, where Paul became head of the company’s casual games division until he left to found Playdemic.