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More alpha-male investors throw money after tournament gaming

By on May 18, 2010
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Titan Gaming just has just raised $1m from a bunch of angels for its tournament gaming platform.

I am deeply sceptical about this model for hardcore gamers. The past is littered with tournament gaming failures such as, Kwari and Prizefight.

Titan Platform screenshot

Broadly speaking, all investors are hyper-competitive alpha-types (whether male or female) and they assume that all gamers are hyper-competitive too.

This is not true. Farmville is not about competition. Sure, some people play to beat their friends. But others play to socialise, to nurture, to build community or because they feel social obligations to keep playing.

But it’s not about competition.

Tom Jubert put it well over at the GameShadow blog when went bust, saying:

“Gambling works because it’s based on luck. no matter how aware of the growing hole in our pockets, we keep playing because were addicted. We’re addicted to the chance we might win big with the next set of cards.

In an FPS, as some investors may not realise, success if heavily based on skill. That means if you’re a loser, you’re a loser – there’s no chance of ever making it big. As a result, the weaker players don’t bother, while the stronger have no one to compete against.”

Companies have had more success in the skill-based casual gaming camp (just look at and GameDuell), but has struggled in the hardcore market.

I wish the team at Titan well, but I fear that they are in for a rocky ride.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
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  • Both Francisco and I will be there. We'd love to meet up.


  • Thanks for posting. I remain a little sceptical, but you are clearly right that King, GameDuell and others have showed the strength of skill gaming.

    I am still finalising whether I will be at E3 this year. Will you be going?

  • Nicholas,

    John Maffei, CEO of Titan here. Thanks for the well wishes above. It appears Francisco stole my thunder. Briefly, the Titan platform supports all sorts of games including casual titles, MMOs, FPS and RTS games. King and WorldWinner have proven that cash competitions do work in the casual space and we expect alot of our initial partners will offer casual skill based games. Nicholas, you accurately identified the Shark vs. Guppies scenerio that has stunted the growth of skill gaming for the hardcore space. To get around this you need a critical mass of players (so you have ample sharks and guppies), great matchmaking tools (so sharks only play sharks) and of course great anti-cheating tools. We have spent a ton of efforts addressing these issues. I encourage you reach out to Francisco and learn more and of course visit

    John Maffei

  • Nicholas, thanks for the well wishes. I've also been following the space and have also observed the hardcore cash-wagering sites you mentioned along with other sites UltimateArena, Gamelio, SkillGround, Kwari. To be fair to you, given those sites' gamer adoption rate I would be a skeptic as well but head-to-head cash wagering is only one component of our game (hardcore and casual) monetization platform and I invite you to contact me at [email protected] so you can explore the other interesting technologies (in stealth) we are providing our partners. In my opinion, although we do support cash wagering on hardcore console titles, at the moment, our tournament system will be more attractive and fun for most hardcore gamers. There's nothing like a good show down in the final round of a tournament! I look forward to connecting.

  • MEE

    But, of course. Thanks for the good stuff.

  • MEE

    But, of course. Thanks for the good stuff.

  • I'm glad that you valued the analysis. Good to have you reading.

  • MEE

    I came for the headline, I stayed for the analysis.