Everyplay, a Finnish social gaming startup founded last year, has come out of stealth mode and released a product called Kamu World on Facebook. It is a "virtual hangout place" featuring edgy "Kamu" characters ('kamu' also means 'a buddy' in Finnish).
Kamu World in its current form is essentially a collection of visualized virtual characters and chat rooms, with few game-like features. It has compelling and very polished look and feel already, though. When entering the world, players create their own Kamu creature, and choose a location around the world (e.g. a game arcade in Tokyo) to meet other Kamus in. Kamus appear as small, desktop-size creatures, smaller than for example a drinking glass.
All actions of the user cumulate "Sparks", experience points, which allow to level up and get more features unlocked. Furthermore, all activities of all users in the world also contribute to the status of the whole world, making it a happier and funnier place. Quite interesting feature further engaging the users is that you can print a PDF copy of your Kamu in order to make a real papercraft model of it. Users can then take pictures of their Kamu in real life settings to accomplish "real world missions", and win Sparks and special prizes from Everyplay in exchange for the pictures. (Further descriptions of features can be found on Everyplay's FAQ page.)
Jussi Laakkonen, CEO and founder of Everyplay, describes Kamu World as a sheer test at the moment - something that getting out of makes the whole thing just more interesting for the firm. Everyplay will keep on building on Kamu World, but it is unforeseen how things evolve. They are open to learn as much as possible along the way. According to Jussi the firm is currently fully focused on fixing most pressing issues in the service and learning about usage patterns to build new features. More customization options, virtual items for decorating and games to play are on the way. At the moment there are no other product plans, but it is clear also other titles may be coming up later on.
Everyplay has no plans to extend to other social networks for the time being, Jussi comments. After addressing the most pressing issues in Kamu World they want to see how well they are able to distribute it in Facebook, considering also the competition by the already established startups, who spend lots of money in marketing their social gaming communities. Jussi regards Facebook as a very compelling distribution channel, not least since one can reach an audience of hundreds of million people globally - and for free.
Jussi says he is not worried about speculations that Facebook should start collecting fees (or "rent") from app developers for accessing its member base -- he argues that one cannot build a business model based on the distribution platform being completely free, and if a minor platform fee is going to kill you, the business model has been defective in the first place. Nevertheless, so far Everyplay is not in a hurry to introduce monetizing models in Kamu World, but it is quite obvious that virtual item sales are going to be important.