Posted on Friday 16 September 2011 by Ulster Business

Belfast tech firm ups the ante in social gaming

Ulster Business talks to a Northern Ireland technology start-up which is aiming to win a slice of the multi-billion dollar social gaming market with the launch of its innovative new web platform

Social gaming is seen as one of the next big things in the tech sector, and one local company believes it has what it takes to become a major player.

Belfast-based gogamingo will soon go live with its web platform, which, unlike most other social gaming sites, allows gamers to compete for real, tangible prizes in the virtual world.

Industry experts have predicted the social gaming industry could be worth $12bn by 2015, but existing companies in the sector have so far failed to turn interest from the huge base of casual game players into substantial revenues.

gogamingo’s platform aims to change that by allowing independent game developers to upload fresh, exciting, addictive games and tracking individual user and demographic behaviour to direct players to the most relevant competition or prize to them.

Founded by technology entrepreneur Aaron Taylor and software developer Martin Scott, the company is backed by a team of high calibre business advisors which includes a former senior Google executive, a leading digital technology marketing consultant and a past CFO of one of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies.

CEO Taylor believes that while there is competition out there, gogamingo has found a gap in the market.

“Currently millions of gamers are playing games for little or no real reward, so there is limited motivation for playing other than to compete against their friends, gain peer recognition or to make themselves feel better.

“gogamingo has identified a massive global opportunity to fill this need by providing a social gaming competition platform that allows gamers to compete for tangible prizes across multiple platforms, including web, mobile and internet TV. That could be anything from an iPad to a holiday or cold hard cash,” he said.

Taylor’s previous venture was a finalist in InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn competition in 2010, and during his career he has also delivered solutions to organisations such as EA Games and Cisco. His business partner, Martin Scott, has 15 years software development experience and has worked for successful tech firms Aneako, Swanlabs and mFormation.

One key way they say their company is different to its competitors is the open, collaborative nature of its platform.

“Around 70 per cent of independent games developers are struggling to break even, so by providing a non-exclusive platform for gamers to distribute their content on, we are providing a disruptive revenue stream on a revenue share basis, allowing games developers to make recurring revenues,” explained Aaron.

The company has successfully progressed to the second phase of Invest Northern Ireland’s highly competitive Propel programme, which aims to fast-track the growth of early stage companies with export potential.

Bill Scott, Director of Regional Economic Development at Invest NI said: “Companies such as gogamingo are essential for continued growth in our economy as they represent the innovative and creative thinking required to seek out international market opportunities and take advantage of them. I hope that Invest NI’s support can help gogamingo to maximise the full potential of their product.”

The business has also received advice and support from venture capital fund manager E-Synergy, which has facilitated meetings between Taylor and other investors and tech companies in London.

gogamingo is now seeking further investment from business angels or venture capitalists as it prepares to make its initial sales push.

“The market for social gaming technology is huge – currently estimated to be $4bn – and this is expected to reach upwards of $12bn in the next four years. Our initial target market will be social gamers aged 16-35, independent games developers and social media users,” said Taylor.

While their goal is to go into international markets, the company also plans to create jobs in Northern Ireland if successful.

“gogamingo anticipates the need to have a significant presence in the UK and US markets, but due to the world class talent pool available here, we expect to develop most of our operational infrastructure, development and sales teams within Northern Ireland,” added Aaron Taylor.

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