Calling all gamers
Houston tech entrepreneurs take online gaming to a new level with GamerWall website
Take the field with your favorite team. Manage your franchise. Build your football dynasty. Madden, the video game, along with NBA 2K, and Rocket League and FIFA soccer games, are all available on GamerWall, an interactive online gaming website. Gratis.
Yeah, you read that right. Sign up online for access to games, free-to-play, and get ready to be transported from your living room to a virtual world where you go head-to-head with competitors from around the globe via a mouse click and keyboard stroke.
Meet the brains behind the new website: John Schaeffer and Mark Flood. The two, who met as freshman at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and now operate GamerWall from their Midtown Houston office, are gunning to make their mark in the gaming industry, ever-growing thanks to broadband Internet access.
“John and I have been collaborating since the day we met. We have a lot of similar interests, we’re both sports fans, and we both like to bet on sports,” Flood tells CultureMap.
They're also working to put Houston more on the tech map. “I’m reading that Houston is struggling to keep startups in town, especially if they’re not healthcare or space. We’re pretty excited about growing the city’s technology space and encouraging more companies to come and stay here," Flood says.
Although Schaeffer and Flood are scoring big with digital gaming platform GamerWall, which boasts a gentle learning curve making it easy for users to get a virtual break from reality, the road to success wasn’t an easy one. Their first collaboration in 2010, ThumbTalk, folded within two years. The mobile picture sharing app allowed users to rate photos with a thumbs up or thumbs down before the image disappeared.
Sound familiar, Snap users? Similar app Snapchat hit the market in 2011, and reportedly has more than 160 million daily active users to date.
“We got it (ThumbTalk) launched, but neither of us were technical so we had a really hard time communicating with developer. We were self-funding and when we ran out if money, instead of raising more, we sold it. We learned from our mistakes and applied those lessons,” Flood explains.
Schaeffer and Flood went their separate ways before joining forces again in 2016 to launch GamerWall, which originally began as a platform for sports betting. “We felt like we would be be dealing with legal hassles so we changed our market to e-sports, the official market for video games. GamerWall no longer has anything to do with gambling,” Flood says.
Setting itself apart from the gaming pack, GamerWall is free, saving players from paying for gaming units and accessories as with Xbox and the like. And did we mention you can win prizes?
“You can play the FIFA soccer game on Xbox and you’d rank and level up, but you're not getting real rewards for being good at it. Play our platform and you win real things like apparel," Flood says. “We host all types of events that last from a few hours to a few months. The longer the event, the bigger the prize.”
Future plans for GamerWall include becoming a provider for hosting live sport tournaments, which have the potential to attract at-home audiences larger than those of traditional sporting events. (Gow Media, the parent company of CultureMap and owner of two sports radio stations in Houston, has a equity stake in GamerWall.)
“We’ll use our platform to host your events with people, but from all over the world participating, which is tough to do. It will be like Xbox tournaments, only without everyone present because we’re using our software to manage the process," Flood says. "Our top objective is to become premier e-sports community.”
GamerWall enthusiasts have even more to be excited about with the recent signing of Trevor May, professional e-sports athlete and pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, as brand representative. As well, additional games, from Hearthstone (card game) to MLB The Show, are coming soon, promising increased virtual fun. Because all work and no play would be pretty dull.