As Facebook games become a bigger and bigger business, new social game startups continue to launch. The latest is SiXits.
Zynga may dominate the market with nearly 300 million monthly active users, but latecomer SiXits is hoping to crash the party with titles that have more engaging game mechanics than the top-ranked apps on Facebook today.
It may not be easy to compete against Zynga, but the social and mobile gaming markets are becoming so big that you can expect plenty of startups to keep trying.
SiXits hopes to set itself apart by hiring seasoned game veterans to create cross-platform games that can be played anywhere. The San Rafael, Calif.-based company has launched an alpha test of its Babies Everywhere game, a simulator that lets you take care of a cartoon-like baby that crawls around in a room and has to be cared for, entertained, and fed.
The game will be a cross-platform title, available on Facebook, the iPhone, and the web in the coming weeks. Each version of the game is tied to the same back-end system. That means you can log into the game wherever you are, on a variety of platforms. The title uses cross-platform game technology from Sibblingz. Update: The company started using Sibblingz technology, but later decided to develop its own.
The company is the brainchild of chief executive Euan MacDonald and chief operating officer Nathaniel Hunter (both pictured above), who spent years in key positions at special effect companies such as Disney’s ImageMovers Digital, and Lucasfilm Animation. SiXits has spent the last year developing the core technology and plans on a beta release of the first game in March. The title uses the Unity Technologies’ browser-based 3D game engine.
“Our goal is to be the Pixar of social media and social games,” MacDonald said.
Scott Foe, a seasoned game developer who has made games for Nokia and Sega, is executive producer of the first game. The game is aimed at women, who are the main demographic of gamers on Facebook, and it targets those who like to nurture. You can tickle the baby, interact with it, and watch it respond with burps or farts. You can arrange play dates with other babies — a fact that turns the baby simulation into a more social game.
Beyond Facebook, SiXits plans to roll Babies Everywhere out on platforms such as Heyzap (Flash web games), Hi5, MySpace, and Yahoo Games.
The team creates the animations for the games in 3D and then converts them into Adobe Flash animations, hopefully resulting in better-looking graphics than typical Facebook games. SiXits has raised $700,000 in two rounds of angel money and is looking for another $450,000. The company has 15 employees and was founded in June 2009. Rivals include Zynga, CrowdStar, Disney-Playdom, and others.
The angel investors include Maureen Finn, Margaret Carlson, and Stephen Gregorio.