GamerDNA launches major upgrade for gamers social network

GamerDNA is launching a major upgrade to its gamer social network web site as it tries to fend off the competition and become everything you need to connect with gamer friends on any network.

Jon Radoff, chief executive of Cambridge, Mass.-based GamerDNA, said the changes are aimed at simplifying the process of setting up a network of your gamer buddies. It may not be Facebook, but this kind of category-focused network is an example of where the growth is in social networks these days.

To get started with GamerDNA, you simply tell it which systems you play and an automated software wizard takes over. For instance, you tell it your Xbox Live sign-on and password and then it will automatically import the data on the last 15 games you played and your friends list. The system imports your achievements and playing record so others can see it if you wish to share it. Then it automatically updates your stats and achievements as you play.

“We are building out our platform to make it an easy web-based experience,” Radoff said in an interview. “The vision is to build a media company around digital games, fueled by consumer insights.”

The software analyzes your taste in games and then recommends people with similar tastes. It also suggests games that you might want to play via a new Discovery Engine. That engine is smart enough to know that you might like Fallout 3 for its dark humor and that you might like BioShock for the same reason.

gamer-1You can connect with your friends and then follow them, much like you do when you follow someone on Twitter. The software can also present a personalized news channel for you, based on the kind of game news you want to hear about. And you can share your own gamer achievements on networks such as Facebook, Friendfeed, Tumblr and Twitter. The service can import your game records from Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, Xfire, and web-based game networks.

The company faces stiff competition from Raptr, a well-funded startup headed by serial game entrepreneur Dennis Fong. It also competes with Xfire, a company Fong sold to MTV Networks. Xfire has more than 14 million members for its gamer’s chat client and it has recently expanded to become more of a social network. Every one of the networks seeks to make it easier to make friends and discover new games.

Radoff said that GamerDNA isn’t trying to duplicate services such as Xfire. Instead, you can import your friends from Xfire or the Steam game-downloading network operated by Valve. You can look at your own statistics to figure out which games you play the most and then break the data into pie charts so you can understand it better.

Customer traction is pretty good, with registered users numbering at 500,000 users. Radoff said the company hopes to make money through advertising and by generating sales leads for game companies. So far, advertisers include brands such as White Castle, Old Spice, and Dell.

Radoff started the company in 2007 because he wanted to make games into a more social experience. The company now has 14 employees.

GamerDNA raised $600,000 in seed funding from Flybridge Capital Partners and then raised a subsequent round of $3 million from Flybridge in April, 2008. About the same time, the company acquired to extract data about gamers who play Xbox 360 games on Xbox Live. GamerDNA went live last December.

Radoff started his first game company, NovaLink, in 1991. The online game company launched the Legends of Future Past text-based adventure game. He also started an enterprise community-building software company, Eprise, and took it public in 2000. That transaction made him rich and he took time off from 2002 to 2006. During that time, he returned to gaming as one of his favorite pasttimes.

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