CupidsPlay Pairs Social Gaming and Online Dating to Create Love Connection

Here’s a twist on the game of love.

The plot is not a guy sending a woman flowers, or a girl subtly flirting with the mailman. It’s a social game, where you try to find the man or woman of your dreams, one Cupid Coin at a time.

Bellevue, Wash.-based CupidsPlay is coming out of beta today, and launching a platform that is designed to blend social gaming with online dating.

The company was founded by the same folks who started TextPayMe, a mobile payments company that Amazon bought five years ago. Now, the entrepreneurs are putting the team back together to go after a new passion–online dating.

So far, the company is just getting off of the ground, having raised $500,000 in seed funded from Clearstone Ventures and Mike George, VP of Amazon.com’s new products division.

CEO Phil Yuen tells us that it’s best to think of the company as a dating site that tightly integrates social games built by outside developers. Members can use the games to discover each other by helping to complete in-game challenges and other mechanics normally found in games on Facebook.

The theory goes that these interactions help “break the ice” and make meeting people more fun, natural and social.

CupidsPlay is even stealing a page from the social-games playbook when it comes to the monetization strategy.

The games will be free to play, but users will be able to pay for virtual goods. So-called CupidCoins are awarded for completing profiles, playing games and returning to the site daily. Within game play, those coins can then be redeemed to send winks, messages, or buy virtual gifts to get the attention of other members. Additional coins will be for sale.

Yuen said by melding online dating with games, there’s a lot more ways to interact with individuals to see if there’s a connection.

Instead of searching and browsing for complete strangers, and initiating awkward conversations, “our system will show the viewer what is the best way to get to know the person more,” he said. For example, it will display the games they have in common, send game requests to the other person, or invite the person to play. “By offering all these hints on how to get in touch with their potential match, we are able to create a much more rich and fun dating environment.”

But if that doesn’t work, the company can always fall back on its patent-pending “matching algorithm” technology.


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