New Online Game Brings Cards to Computers

Venture capital money is boosting one young company’s position in the exploding world of short form online games –the latest of which involves the use of virtual baseball cards.

Challenge Games, developer of the popular Duels online fantasy game, has announced it has secured $4.5 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital as it moves forward with the expansion of its short-form, browser-based online games including a new baseball card-based game titled Baseball Boss.

Challenge Games signed a multi-year licensing deal with MLB Advanced Media, LP (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball. At launch, Challenge is offering over 3400 virtual cards featuring images of players from 1907 and 2007. Some of the stars offered include Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Cy Young as well modern players like Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz. New seasons will be released in the coming months.

Designed to be what the company believes will be "the most visually attractive game on the internet", Baseball Boss allows players to collect and trade the virtual cards, which can be used to build teams and challenge other players or historical teams to an online baseball "game". Like traditional baseball cards, the online cards available in Baseball Boss include player statistics and photos.

Both casual and hardcore gamers alike have few choices when it comes to finding challenging quick-fix gaming experiences that are high-quality and engaging," said Roelof Botha, venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital. "But when I found and played Duels for the first time, I was hooked. It’s clear Challenge Games is filling a major opportunity in the gaming market.

Duels and Baseball Boss are free-to-play online games that combine the collectability and trading associated with collectible card games and sports cards with the competitive aspects of massively multi-player games and the ease of access of community Web 2.0 applications. Games can be played in 5-15 minute increments rather than in long marathon sessions.

"With nearly 250,000 loyal Duels gamers in its first ten months and a fantasy sports world worth $2 billion, we’re just beginning to skim the surface of the growing market for short-form online games," said Andrew Busey, founder and CEO of Challenge Online Games.

Gamers can collect items and cards within the game and trade them with other players. They can also sign up for VIP memberships for a small subscription fee, which provides additional benefits such as the ability to buy card packs and special items for enhanced gaming experiences.