Start-up IRL Gaming is looking to launch a new real-world gaming platform described as "Mafia Wars meets Foursquare meets World of Warcraft".
IRL Gaming is creating a game that is played by using GPS-enabled smartphones to identify a person's location and sharing this data with other applications and nearby users. It was co-founded by engineers Matthew Brennan and Daniel Eyles, designer Chris Spicuzza and user experience chief Henry Cho.
The group devised the idea over a beer in September 2010, and Brennan hopes IRL Gaming will become a highly trafficked platform by combining the popularity of check-in services and massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).
"We're taking the best elements of products and services in these two markets and combining them to create something that gives people an entirely new experience," Brennan said. "If we were to sum it up I suppose it'd be Mafia Wars meets Foursquare meets World Of Warcraft with the entire world as your playing field."
The game will seek to avoid the "check-in fatigue" which affects users of other popular location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places, he said.
"We're providing a brand new experience for social gamers that will break them out of the familiar pattern of slowly levelling up by performing repetitive actions in a homogeneous computer-generated environment.
"IRL is literally taking players into the real world and allowing them to explore infinitely mutable and dynamic environments with ever-evolving challenges and new experiences."
The new platform aims to target the global English speaking market, specifically the 2 million strong online community of "zombie enthusiasts".
Beta testing should commence in March, with the aim of publishing the first version on app stores in April, according to Brennan.
The idea received $25,000 seed funding and mentoring advice from Startmate, a collection of 27 successful Australian entrepreneurs that have launched successful global businesses.
It was the only game to be selected for the Startmate program, but Brennan stressed there was clear business focus.
There are three planned revenue streams, based on virtual goods, in-game promotion and location-based marketing, he said.
"We don't want to give away too much here, but we have developed a novel way for local businesses to promote themselves and gain traffic within the game itself," he said.
In the future it will target the Asian market, to get a lead on the indirect competitors, who Brennan believed have been a bit slow in leveraging the region.
New and interesting idea. The co-founders appear to have the complementary skills to develop a robust product. Support of Startmate founders.
This will live and die by the number of users. Also it is aimed at an untested and immature market.
The rapid growth of smartphones has created a huge demand for location-based gaming. The market is relatively untapped.
The idea will become quickly redundant as soon as a major social network/gaming application integrates location-based functionality.
It is a great idea; however, I think it would be difficult to get enough users involved to make it a viable product.