A Skill Games Community

6 August 2003

Skill game specialist Arkadium Inc. officially launched its cornerstone product this week. The hard launch follows an aggressive marketing campaign that kicked off in April.

Arkadium, which specializes in developing and supplying unique online gaming software, is now making the product, "Gamedek," available to a growing list of clients that includes the New York Post and Terra.com.

The two heavyweight partners give Arkadium's products exposure to 140 million potential players.

Arkadium's plan is to develop and create gaming platforms online for non-gaming sites. But the games themselves are just a small part of the whole Gamedek offering.

Players who register into the system become part of a larger "gaming community" complete with chat rooms, player stats and historical data. The Flash-based games range from traditional games like solitaire and chess to arcade style-games like skeet shooting and a Pac-man clone called "Mr. Munch."

What sets Arkadium apart from most other gaming sites, though, is the head-to-head component, which is the backbone of the system. The platform is designed for players to battle each other and compare scores in more than 20 different games. If a hardcore skeet shooter is looking for a good match, for example, he can access data about players--their scoring averages, winning percentages and even how much they typically like to bet. Participants can play for fun, but the idea is to get them betting on how well they will do against each other in the skill games.

The company is hoping to make in impact in the skill games market, which up until now has been dominated by sites that are geared toward tournaments. Jessica Rovello, Chairman of Arkadium, feels the big drawback with tournament-based sites is the mismatching of skill levels. A casual gamer, he said, could get pitted with an experienced player in the early stages and get eliminated with ease, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the outmatched player.

Gamedek players can see who else is logged in and send an immediate challenge to players with whom their familiar or challenge new players they perceive as having comparable skills.

Rovello also pointed out that tournament sites can be conducive to cheating.

"Cheating and individual game domination have become a big problem on most cash tournament sites," she said. "By establishing a core community through chat, and giving users the ability to select their own opponent, Arkadium is bringing both fair play and an exciting new platform to Internet games."

Nevertheless, Gamedek can accommodate players craving tournament play. Tournaments can be open or customized, and the system also offers private and public chatting, rival tracking, individual profiles including avatars, themed game rooms and more.

Arkadium's white-label product can be skinned specifically for the operator or used in conjunction with other licensees to create a giant pool of players.

If the Arkadium approach works, it could translate to big dividends for Rovello and Kenny Rosenblatt, who teamed with Rovello to create the Arkadium concept. Bear Stearns predicts the skill game market will generate $2.55 billion by 2006.

Not bad for an idea that was spurred by debates between Rovello and Rosenblatt (while working at their former jobs) over who was the best Ms. Pac-Man player. When they turned to the Internet to settle the dispute once and for all they were shocked to find no Web site offering the space for them to challenge each other head-to-head in their favorite arcade game.

Now gamers have that option, thanks to some ingenuity and a team of talented game designers and developers.

Arkadium officials hope to grow the system by adding more top-notch affiliates, with a focus on entertainment, news and general content portals.

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at kevin@igamingnews.com.