Raptr levels up to Web 3.0 with customized game news feeds
Raptr, a social network for gamers founded by serial entrepreneur Dennis Fong, has ramped up its service with personalized news feeds for the site's 8 million registered users.
The new feature works like Reddit or Digg in that it lets users post links to articles or videos and allows people to vote on them. Unlike on Digg, however, each user will see a feed of content based on the games they're playing, which Raptr is able to track with the user's permission.
Fong, whose other companies include Xfire, Lithium and Gamers.com, believes the ability to serve up hyper-personalized content transforms social networks -- which collectively have been dubbed Web 2.0 -- into the next generation of Web services.
"Web 2.0 is about your social graph and your interests," said Fong, 34. "Web 3.0 is about adding additional vectors to filter out the noise and make your experience more relevant. With Foursquare, it's your location. With Raptr, it's what games you are currently playing and even what level you are on within that game."
Many niche social networks that have come and gone, but Raptr has managed to survive and grow since it started in 2007, primarily because its gamers are a particularly focused online community, constantly engaged in discussions over their favorite titles and voraciously gobbling up tidbits of news about upcoming hot releases. The service is adding more than half a million new users a month.
Over the years, Raptr has built up a vast database of its users' gaming activity across multiple platforms, including computers, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. As a result, Raptr can, for example, measure how long people play a particular game after buying it, to gauge whether users quickly grow tired of that game.
Raptrs' users on average log 80 hours a month on the service, though much of that is while they are playing games with Raptr running in the background.
Thus far, Raptr isn't pulling in massive revenue because its services are not only free to use, but also largely free of advertisements. Fong says that's because it needs to grow its user base closer to 25 million or more before it can start serving up targeted ads in ways that would be interesting to advertisers.
That, however, hasn't turned off investors. The San Francisco company has attracted $27 million in venture financing, with its latest round in November pulling in $15 million from Accel Partners, Founders Fund, DAG Ventures and Tenaya Capital.
If Fong's name rings a bell -- particularly for old-school gamers -- it's because he was once a competitive pro gamer known as "Thresh," as in "threshold of pain." He made as much as $100,000 a year winning Doom, Quake and other game tournaments. In a 1997 Quake tournament, Fong won a custom Ferrari owned by John Carmack, the developer of the Doom and Quake games. Fong said he drove it fewer than 30 times in 10 years, preferring instead to display it in the lobbies of his various companies.
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Dennis Fong, chief executive of Raptr. Credit: Raptr