play 2Playhaven is making it easy for gamers to create fan communities around iPhone games. It does so by creating online forums for fans on its web site, with a new fan section for every iPhone game. Developers can then claim those game communities as official fan sites.

To date, 40 developers have launched official communities at Playhaven in its first month. Fans can join the online communities for free, and developers can claim the communities for free. Developers simply “click to claim” the communities, which means it’s minimal work for game creators.

play 1discThe idea is to spark word-of-mouth buzz around games, which is extremely important on the iPhone because its easy to get lost among the 22,784 games among the 118,568 published iPhone apps (Mobclix numbers).

Fan reviews and ratings are especially important ways to get noticed on the iPhone, said Raymond Lau, chief executive of San Mateo, Calif.-based Playhaven, in an interview. These are the sorts of issues we’re going to discuss at our DiscoveryBeat conference on Dec. 8 in San Francisco.

“Right now, the developers fly blind because they don’t know who their fans are,” Lau said. “We want to empower the developers by establishing a community.”

Developers can add the links to the fan community into their apps for free. Lau said the company may add premium features that developers can pay for at some point in the future.

Playhaven uses the description and art work that companies submit to the AppStore when they launch, so it can easily start a new fan community for every new game. So far, the company has created more than 15,000 fan communities where fans can post game guides, tips, reviews and other content. They can also communicate with developers on the official sites. Develoeprs can create blog posts.

Some of the popular games with official forums are Aqua Globs, Radio Flare, Fare City: First Shift, Wheeler’s Treasure, Medieval and The Quest – Hero of Lukomorye I. Bryan Mitchell, the developer of Geared, found that a third of his game’s players are entering the community site every day, partly to see the fan-created guide to all 80 levels of the game. An AdMob survey found that 46 percent of iPhone users choose apps based on word-of-mouth recommendations.

Playhaven was founded in 2008 by Lau, Erik Yao, and Kurtiss Hare. Lau and Yao had previously started MyGameMug, a social networking site for gamers. It didn’t do particularly well, but it has become useful to World of Warcraft guilds that are recruiting new members. So the site is still in operation. The company has fewer than 10 employees.

Competitors who do similar things include Scoreloop, Aurora Feint’s Open Feint platform, and Ngmoco’s Plus+ platform. But Playhaven doesn’t require that its communities be integrated into a game via a software development kit. Investors include Tandem Entrepreneurs and LaunchBox Digital. The company raised an undisclosed amount for its seed round.

disc[The excitement in this industry is one of the reasons why we’re holding an executive event called DiscoveryBeat on Dec. 8 in San Francisco. The event will explore the secret recipe for getting your social game or mobile phone application “discovered” in an age of increasing noise. Get your early bird ticket by today to get 25 percent off].