Portalarium: Bringing Premium Games to the Social Web

March 12, 2011

1:00 pm

The video game industry has seen seismic transitions due to the massive adoption of smartphones and integration with social networking sites. In January 2011, according to the NPD Group, 2010 worldwide video game revenue, excluding hardware, exceeded $15 billion.  Strikingly, console game sales were down by 5% in 2010 over 2009.

Portalarium is a new company with veteran talent – 80 combined years in the gaming industry, with more than 25 of those years spent specifically in the online space – that clearly sees this shift in not only the types of games, but the types of players (53% of social gamers are women).  Through Portalarium’s offerings, the group aspires to deliver higher game production quality, improved player connectedness, and employ advanced technologies to games across social networks, web browsers and both desktop and mobile devices.

Since its formation in 2009, Portalarium has released:

1)      The Portalarium Player – This is a plugin Portalarium has opened to fellow developers and studios. Basically, you are no longer limited to using Flash to develop browser-based games or apps. You are now free to use virtually any game development system, graphics engine, etc., to create your web-browser games — whether Unreal, Unity, Gamebryo, Torque, or even your own proprietary code.

2)      Port Casino is the first product suite from Portalarium. Starting with Port Casino Poker (formerly Sweet @$! Poker), which launched in early 2010 and recently joined by Port Casino Blackjack.

Upcoming releases include:

CenterPort – This will be launched as a social network app (Facebook, MySpace, hi5, etc.) and promises to be “more graphically advanced than what you see out there on social networks today”.  Players will have a persistent avatar interacting with a semi-3D world: buying clothing, personal items, housing and decorative components for their avatar.  There will be mini-games to play, in-world quests to explore and relevant ad-driven quests to generate credits, etc.  All of these options will be able to generate revenues as they can be purchased via incremental microtransactions and a la cart purchasing opportunities.

A half dozen or more casino-style games are planned as well.

This Austin-based venture was co-founded by Richard Garriott, VP/Creative Director and Hall-of-Fame game designer of the legendary Ultima Series and Ultima Online MMORPG; Fred Schmidt,  CEO, and 35 year veteran of building successful games and entertainment businesses and Dallas Snell, Chairman and head of product development.

This is the third go-around for the team. This group created the Austin “games industry” with ORIGIN Systems, later sold to Electronic Arts. They then founded Destination Games, which they sold to NCsoft Corporation. All 3 were execs with both successor companies for many years.

If you’ll be at SXSW, come by and meet the Portalarium team at our SXSW Accelerator Kickoff on Sunday.


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Marla Shaivitz is a writer, developer and digital marketer. She's interested in innovations & innovators in technology and those working toward social good. Follow Marla on Twitter at @marlashaivitz.

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