In the game for a casual $5 million

Sydney-based casual computer gaming start-up 3RD sense is about to embark on capital raising to hire staff and management expertise to capitalise on its potential to captivate people's attention. And the odds are good it will succeed.
Written by Brad Howarth, Contributor

Casual games have been a big success for the global electronics games industry, with estimates that games are played over the internet by more than 200 million people each month.

Swords and Sandals III

One of 3RD sense's games
(Credit: 3RD sense)

Casual games cost a fraction to develop when compared to the big console titles, and are easily distributed from websites, mobile portals, through Facebook and MySpace, or through the online networks of Xbox and PlayStation.

They are also big business. The Casual Games Association estimated that the industry had revenues in excess of US$2.25 billion in 2007 (more recent figures are not available) and said that figure was growing at 20 per cent annually.

For three years now Sydney-based 3RD sense has been claiming a small but growing share of that market with a series of casual games it distributes through its own internet portal, www.fizzy.com.

The company began life developing games specifically for brands and other advertisers, but soon realised there was money to be made in getting its games concepts out to a broader audience. Its most popular game, Swords & Sandals III, has now been played more than 3 million times.

While the company continues to create custom work for brands, its founder and chief executive Colin Cardwell says Fizzy is getting more than 1 million monthly visitors (the vast majority from outside Australia) who are playing more than 3 million gaming sessions. The portal, which contains around 500 games, has more than 340,000 members, and they are buying several thousand downloads each month.

Most importantly, he says 3RD sense is able to serve ads directly to those gamers — at a rate of 35 million each month.

Cardwell says the company would love to be distributing games through mobile services and Xbox live, but has been too busy with the opportunities that are already in front of it.

To this end 3RD sense is about to embark on a capital raising. The company is seeking $5 million to hire the staff and management expertise that Cardwell knows he needs to convert some of that potential. The company already has $400,000 from Divergent Capital, but Cardwell says he is keen to expand Fizzy and take on some of the other potential markets for casual games.

There is some precedent to say the company might get it. Casual games companies have been popular with venture investors, particularly in the US. On 6 May Silicon Valley-based casual games company WonderHill announced that it had raised US$7 million.

If 3RD sense fails to find that same success, it won't be due to shyness. The company recently picked up media attention from as far away as the London newspapers for its game based on the swine flu epidemic.

As long as casual gamers continue to look for cheap and convenient distractions from the perils of pandemics, terrorism and the global financial crisis, 3RD sense could just be on to something.

bootstrappr opinion: BOOM

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