The culture of participation is gaining steam in the gaming arena. Kongregate, a site that lets users upload their own simple Flash video games, announced today that it raised $5 million in a venture round led by Greylock Partners. Web 2.0 angel Jeff Clavier is already an investor. These tend to be simple games, but the site seems to be gaining some traction, with 750 developers having uploaded 1391 games since the site's public launch last March. That in turn is driving some gains in traffic.
But Kongregate is not alone in the quest to become the YouTube of online video games. A newer startup out of England called YoYo Games, which I highlighted in this year's Web 2.0 map of the world, just launched a couple months ago, but already boasts 5,510 user-submitted games. One reason why YoYo Games has been able to seed its site with so many more games in a shorter period of time is that it offers a free software download called Game Maker that pretty much anyone can use to create their own games.
While Kongregate still seems to be drawing more traffic (at least, according to Compete.com), the more games on a site, the more likelihood that any one of them will turn into a hit. So the race is on.
Sites that are driven by audience contributions—whether they revolve around video, photos, music, or games—need to start helping their members create better entertainment content. Those who do will have a better chance of separating themselves from the pack. For that reason, my money is on YoYo Games.