SOURCE: Hooked Media Group

Hooked Media Group

February 23, 2010 09:00 ET

Hooked Media Group Launches Yoo-Mee, a Social Gaming Platform That Creates a Community of Players Across Websites, Social Networks and Mobile Devices

Social Media Aspects Pull Traffic to Publisher Sites Through Community Dialogue and Tournament Play; Marketers Given Potential Access to Engaged Gamers: Over 89 Million (US) and 200 Million (Global)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - February 23, 2010) -  Hooked Media Group, a social gaming company backed by $4.5 million in funding from U.S. Venture Partners and Altos Ventures, has launched Yoo-Mee, a gaming platform aimed at the over 200 million people who play casual games. Yoo-Mee engages players wherever they play -- on websites, in social networks, and via mobile devices -- to create an engrossing community where people keep coming back to play, compete, and discuss. By plugging into the Yoo-Mee platform, a publisher's existing user-base pulls players from social networks and across the web to their sites using one simple embed code. With deals in place with top game studios, Hooked Media is in a unique position to continue to grow the Yoo-Mee community by distributing games through the Yoo-Mee platform.

"We are creating a more emotionally invested experience for casual gamers. Yoo-Mee makes any game social by creating a community experience around each game," says Hooked Media CEO Prita Uppal. "Developers can integrate their existing games into Yoo-Mee, web publishers can embed a full game experience onto their sites, and everyone benefits from additional revenue."

Yoo-Mee allows players to compete one-on-one with each other or in group tournaments, and keeps track of high-scores, virtual currency, and social media connections so that gamers can connect with friends and top players. Casual gamers will be able to obtain virtual currency by playing their favorite casual games and wagering against one another. Yoo-Mee will support two types of virtual currency: the first currency, Tokens, is a loyalty currency that users obtain by simply playing games, inviting friends and playing with one another. The second currency, Gold, is purchased and used in one-on-one challenges to earn real money.

Hooked Media partners with publishers by turning content rich pages and existing solitary game experiences, like crosswords, word puzzles, and Sudoku, into money making pages. This creates new ways to conduct user acquisition, and brings virtual currency into the publisher revenue model where it did not exist before. Publishers will connect to their user base wherever users are engaged. Through Yoo-Mee, users directly bring their social connections back to the publisher's site to play games against their friends through social media like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. This increases page views and traffic per month. Publishers reap the benefits of increased engagement for their websites and newly directed traffic via social media. They will additionally receive revenues generated at their websites from the micro-transaction based virtual economy.

Developers can integrate directly with Yoo-Mee to provide a full tournament experience for each individual game. In addition to increasing game plays and gaining scale through competition and Yoo-Mee's growing community of players, they will also gain access to another solid revenue stream through paid currency transactions. Yoo-Mee partners with the developer to bring their games to players wherever they play -- websites, social networks, and mobile devices -- thereby creating a user and publisher ecosystem around their games.

Advertisers benefit from Yoo-Mee by reaching target audiences when they are most engaged across multiple channels. By sponsoring game plays and tournaments in the Yoo-Mee network, ad messages can be pre-rolled before games start or become a sustained part of the visual frame in which the game is played and can target by demographic, content and gaming genre. Marketer messages will have multiple exposures because of the social media features incorporated into Yoo-Mee, such as users posting their scores and challenges to their favorite social media pages.

"Social gaming is a hot market. Yoo-Mee shifts a generally solitary experience to more of a community one, so that games will become more engaging," says Rick Lewis of US Venture Partners, an investor in Hooked Media Group. "Prita and her team have broken the boundaries of social networks and the web by bringing the fun to gamers wherever they play through a vibrant community built upon the Yoo-Mee platform, and benefiting publishers, game developers, and marketers in the process. Yoo-Mee's introduction of a truly social and interactive gaming experience will translate into greater engagement between players and marketers."

"As the new generation of mobile smart devices explode in popularity, Internet users are going to experience a new level of community engagement. Publishers need to move beyond static communication," says Colin W. Gillis, Senior Technology Analyst and Director of Research, Equities & Derivatives, The Americas at BGC Financial, L.P. "The Yoo-Mee platform brings in social functionality, and an additional revenue stream. Social gaming is one of the best business models to emerge from the Internet, in our opinion, to lever the coming decade of constant connectivity."

"In a world of increasing media fragmentation, channels like social gaming with its viral growth potential and high user engagement are becoming attractive outlets for advertisers," adds Terence G. Kawaja, Managing Director, GCA Savvian.

Hooked Media Group (www.hookedmediagroup.com) is a social gaming company featuring Yoo-Mee, a premium gaming technology platform and network that seeks to engage players with a community experience around every game wherever they play. In addition, Hooked allows web publishers to embed a social game player to improve both user experience and website statistics while rewarding both publishers and developers with revenue. Hooked Media, backed by US Venture Partners and Altos Ventures, is headquartered in San Francisco.

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