Beyond Gaming Adds Web-based, Social Networking Components to Traditional Console Gaming to Virtualize Tournaments
Tony Legeza and his fellow video game lovers at Beyond Gaming are out to add a bit of new-world flavor to the more traditional world of playing games on consoles like Xbox 360 or Sony’s Playstation models.
The inspiration for the Toledo, OH-based startup, which is working to build a Web community of video gamers who compete for cash in tournaments through their game consoles, came when one of the co-founders qualified for a tournament in LA but didn’t have the money to get there, says co-founder and CEO Legeza, who resides in Bedford Township, MI. The founding team thought others looking to participate in traditional video game tournaments might find themselves in the same boat—or just want to compete more regularly without hitting the road—so they decided to create a platform to match players up via the Web and bring tournaments to them.
“Instead of playing for just bragging rights, we’re giving them the opportunity to monetize their skills,” Legeza says.
Legeza, an engineer by trade, says he was hesitant initially because he was concerned with the legality of running gaming tournaments for cash online, but found that video games weren’t an issue because they center around skill, not luck. The Toledo, OH-based startup began developing the platform in summer 2009, and last February started a private beta version involving 500 players. Earlier this fall it opened up the service to the public.
Beyond Gaming members search the service’s website for tournaments, which take place several times a day and involve head-to-head matches against other players at a set time. The gamers deposit their betting money into a PayPal account and match up against each other real-time within a particular game, so the opponent on screen actually represents the opponent they are playing for cash.
“Our system has the inputs to go out and retrieve the results real time, “Legeza says. “We bring the information back into our database to determine where the money should be allocated.” He kept pretty quiet on how exactly the company’s technology works to extract data from the games in order to track the tournaments and scores, but said that “gaming companies are providing a lot of public facing info, [and] because of that we’re able to access it in different means.”
In addition to the tournaments, Beyond Gaming is looking to serve as a gaming-focused social network community, where members can connect with friends, post on each other’s walls, and access video and blog content centered on gaming.
Video gaming has long had online community-based elements, thanks in large part to massively multiplayer online games, but Beyond Gaming takes that to games that have traditionally existed solely on consoles. Other companies serve as forums for video game console-based tournaments, but Legeza says they largely rely on players to input their own scores on the honor system.
Beyond Gaming’s technology currently has the ability to work with nearly 30 gaming titles, including the popular Halo series and EA Sports titles like Madden NFL and FIFA Soccer, and can work on Playstation 2 and 3, and Xbox 360. The company is also working to add functionality for Nintendo’s Wii console.
Beyond Gaming has raised about $232,0000 in funding, including a $100,000 investment from Toledo-based Rocket Ventures, and stands to get another $150,000 from the firm based on certain milestones, Legeza says. He also says he is working on raising additional funding.
Beyond Gaming users can enlist in the social networking component of the site only for free, or they can pay $7.95 per month to participate in the online community and an unlimited number of tournaments and head-to-head matches. Because it doesn’t take a cut from the winnings of individual tournaments, Beyond Gaming can avoid tangling with local laws against bookmaking, Legeza says. The company is working now on marketing the community and driving up traffic. “We’re leveraging the huge following of people addicted to console games,” he says.
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