Kongregate.com is a casual gaming social network that hosts thousands of flash based games. The site encourages users to develop their own games and upload them. Kongregate also pays developers to produce premium games that can be played for free with upgraded versions available for download for a fee. The site combines social networking with gaming. All users have a profile and can have friends, favorites and a game play rating. Each game features a room that shows the users and friends online and features a chat window. Both single and multi-player games are available. Multiplayer games feature in-game chat capability. Points are earned based on gameplay and ratings. The user’s level on the site rises as the points increase. The site plans to offer other incentives for points in the future, such as prizes and free game upgrades. The site also hosts a game called Kongai that features collectible cards and badges. Kongai has the largest userbase of any game on the site.
Kongregate.com was launched in March 2007 by the sister and brother team of Emily and Jim Greer. The site has experienced steady growth and has millions of unique visitors and hundreds of thousands of registered user visits each month. The company is based in San Francisco and has received $9 million in venture capital including $3 million from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The company has recently started deploying some of its games on Facebook.
Kongregate is similar to Miniclips.com and Game Gardens. Miniclips does not emphasize the social gaming and user as developer aspect as much as Kongregate. Game Gardens is more similar to Kongregate but has much fewer games to offer. Kongregate’s founders describe the site as “the YouTube of games”, and the site pretty well lives up to that title. A good portion of the site is devoted to developer support and they offer users who develop games the opportunity to share in the revenue from ads displayed around the games.
Most of the pages at Kongregate are quite busy and somewhat cluttered. Some pages have as many as three display advertisements and there are lots of links on each page. However, the top menu bar makes navigation easy and the site is quick and responsive. Most games take less than a minute to load over a broadband connection. The site is well organized and the games are divided into eight different categories, plus categories for new and top-rated games. The game windows are quite large, and the advertisements around the games are well out of the way.
Registration is not required to play the games at Kongregate, but is necessary to take part in the social aspect, to gain points and to download premium games. The registration process is straightforward, with the user being prompted for a username, password, DOB, gender, zip code and country. The user can choose to hide their age and zip code in their profile.
All of the games can be played for free in some form, but premium versions of some games are available for download for a fee. Users can also purchase Kreds, which are credits that can be used to purchase power-ups and levels in some of the games. Users can also use Kreds to tip a game’s developers. Kreds cost $5 for 50, and the price for premium games varies depending on the game. The checkout process for purchasing upgraded games and Kreds is handled securely, and the site accepts PayPal or Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express credit/debit cards. Users are asked for full credit card information, including billing address. Additionally, Kongregate offers a premium subscription for $29.99 per year which removes site ads and allows users to customize their profiles more deeply.
Kongregate is recommended to anyone with an interest in gaming and social networking. Most of the games are either self-explanatory or have a short learning curve, and there is plenty of help and tutorials available for most of the more complicated games. The flash interface loads the games seamlessly in a browser window, and technical difficulties are rare. Also, the site is recommended to anyone who has an interest in developing flash-based games, as there is a lot of support provided to help developers produce games that are compatible with the site. And users who develop games can participate in the profits, with the amount being decided by the games user rating and popularity.