When it comes to PC gaming, there are two dominant places for it: Online games portals, and social networks. XPO Games, however, is a young portal that was launched in May, and looks to combine these two worlds into one cohesive package. It’s a social network that features games, and is itself designed entirely around them.
It’s not looking to merely support the playing of online games, but actually supports game developers as well. The core focus, it seems, is to support user-created games made in Flash. Of course any sort of user-generated content runs the risk of being mediocre, but each game is ranked based on number of game plays and user ratings, which tend to be fairly accurate. Also, the variety of games is astounding, ranging from puzzlers like “Bubble Breaker” to quiz games like “Let’s Get Pregnant” (no, it’s not what you think).
In case anyone is wondering, the “Let’s Get Pregnant” game actually got a decent user score (it’s about guessing how many months a woman is pregnant… get your mind out of the gutter). What makes this important is that it was not only entertaining, but it was rated so by users of the portal.
Other notable features in XPO include messaging, user profiles, aforementioned ratings, user walls, friends, favoriting games, and groups. Above all these, however, is the fact that news feeds are also included. This is something that seems left out of most gaming portals. Users are informed whenever a friend accomplishes an achievement, gains a high score, or uploads a game, thus adding a distribution method for developers not unlike Facebook. Beyond feeds, there is also something called “LSS” or the Live Scoring System that allows players to compete against one another in any game, at any time, in real-time.
If nothing else, it’s interesting that XPO is trying to create a social layer that spans all of its games. Online gaming portals are often independent of social capabilities, though that has changed significantly over the past few months as more and more portals adopt social features (i.e. Candystand.com or myLifetime.com). The latter, Facebook and its ilk, focuses on providing much more than just games.
Frankly, XPO Games is certainly a good place to bookmark for any frequent online games player. If for no other reason, it makes for a great outlet to play some very out there and very fun games, and really goes to show what sort of creative capabilities people have. Not only that, but it makes for yet another means to get the names of all those young start ups and indie developers out there.