Risk and Reward: GoCrossCampus Morphs Into Casual Games Site for Teams

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teams buy gun-equipped towers and place them in rows across a field in an effort to prevent an opposing team’s forces or “creeps” from crossing. Teammates can coordinate tower placement using a chat interface.

Teams play for the glory of their school or their favorite professional sports team. “We built a leader board system where the points you win apply not just to yourself but to your college or your team,” says Hargreaves. “So we’ve combined affinity networking with a casual gaming site.”

Pocket TowersPickTeams hasn’t abandoned GoCrossCampus. The PickTeams website is still where campus groups keep track of the big real-world matches going on across dozens of campuses. But even GoCrossCampus is going virtual. The company’s next synchronous casual game, Hargreaves says, will be an online-only version of the the game—“GXC,” as it’s abbreviated. “We’ve heard from a lot of people who want to ability to play team-based territory-acquisition games without having to wait for one of our on-campus games,” Hargreaves says. Now they’ll be able to start a game anytime. And bringing in that pool of ready players should also help keep the lobbies full at Alpha Blitz and Pocket Towers, Hargreaves hopes.

Though the mechanism isn’t in place yet, PickTeams plans to monetize all this by emulating WorldWinner’s tournament model, where players ante up a few dollars to enter and have a chance at winning a prize pot. As at WorldWinner, most of the cash will go back to players in the form of prizes, but PickTeams will keep a small percentage of every pot.

At first, PickTeams itself will set up the tournaments, but later on, it will provide the tools for players to set up private brackets, just as in online fantasy sports leagues, Hargreaves says. PickTeams also makes money by showing video ads from the San Francisco-based VideoEgg rich media advertising network.

The whole model has evolved quite a bit since last year, when the company’s only revenue streams were the corporate sponsorships it sold for individual GoCrossCampus events. Indeed, PickTeams is leaving the bulk of the hard-core campus Risk market to Turf. Hargreaves says he keeps in touch with Smedresman, and the latest indications are that “they’re going in the direction of developing a more intensive game experience, on the bleeding edge of the technology,” says Hargreaves. “Whereas we’re more interested in building a community and in the emotional aspects of the competitions. I don’t think of them as primary competitors anymore. Our audiences are starting to be very different.” Which makes for less controversy—but is probably better business.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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