Deal Radar 2008: GameDuell

This story was written by Sramana Mitra.
GameDuell was launched in 2003 and offers skill games to be played against real opponents for real money. The site has around 20 popular games like Solitaire, Roll 5, Freecell and Roll 5. GameDuell was launched in Berlin by Kai Bolik, now CEO, Michael Kalkowski, now MD of Products, and Boris Wasmuth, MD of marketing. The site is already available across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Britain, and the US in nine languages.

GameDuell received their Series A round of an undisclosed amount from Holtzbrinck Ventures and Burda Digital Ventures in 2004. In July 2008 the company raised a $17.45 million Series B from Wellington Partners, one of Europe's most prominent venture firms.

After they register, players can play free as Practice Players or can put up small bets in cash competitions as Money Players to win prize money. Practice Players have the opportunity to play a few games, but cannot win real money or participate in Jackpot Duels. Money Players have full access to all games offered on the GameDuell website and can win money, participate in Jackpot Duels, and play as many free training duels as they like. These cash prizes are considered legal in most countries since the competitions are based on skill rather than pure luck. Unlike other gaming sites which make money through subscriptions, advertising, or purchase of virtual goods, GameDuell uses a unique approach generating revenue through contests.

Since its inception, over 10 million players have registered on the site. More than 200,000 games are played on GameDuell daily. The company claims to be the No.1 gaming company in Germany. In 2005, Nielsen and Netratings ranked GameDuell as one of the world's largest Internet gaming sites. September monthly US traffic, according to Quantcast is 1.7 million, the maximum it's been so far. Compete pegs the number of unique visitors in September at approximately 800,000. GameDuell boasts more than 200 media partners and is the third-largest online advertiser in Germany. A comScore report says that 30% of German internet users have visited an online gaming site. The company has 80 employees and plans to double the number soon.

One of GameDuell's toughest competitors is WorldWinner, which was acquired by FUN Technologies for $23 million in 2006. Players on this site spend approximately $400 a month in contests, and WorldWinner takes 15-20% of that. Other competitors are Gamoook, Dukesbox and Skillground.

I would love to see more skill gaming companies come about, except, the skills and knowledge that I would like to see tested are math, science, history, geography you know Edutainment!

Related Readings:
Deal Radar 2008: PlayFirst Plays Casual Games Well
Deal Radar 2008: Trion World Network
Building the Electronic Arts of Casual Gaming

By Sramana Mitra