Destructoid Q&A with GameStrata

We understand. Sometimes it’s not enough to just know that you earned a great score. Sometimes you want to know how you compare to the rest of the gaming world, and you would love to have a place to go where you could find that out. The newly launched gaming community GameStrata has set out to create this place for you.

Destructoid had the pleasure of talking with GameStrata CEO Lance Smith and COO Barry Dorf about their new venture. We ran a few questions by them to get the full details on how this system works. 

What exactly is GameStrata?

It’s not just scores and stats; Gamestrata sets out to be a gaming community. They think of themselves as a sort of gaming Facebook. “We would refer to it as a gamer networking site, featuring individual player statistics, leaderboards, and rankings,” says Smith. “Consider GameStrata to be a different version of the gaming community experience.”

Hit the jump to read more on GameStrata. 

Dorf adds, “It’s trends, analysis, friends lists — it’s everything you’d want to concentrate on as a gamer.” 

GameStrata communicates with supported networked games to extract and collect player data, and it seems that the whole process begins with the game’s publisher. “Every one of our relationships is direct with the game publishers to extract the data and information,” says Dorf.

Supported titles are for PC and consoles now, but they aim to include other platforms like the Nintendo DS and mobile phones at a later stage.

Which publishers are working with GameStrata? 

This week’s launch includes support for Battlefield 2 from EA, Capcom’s Lost Planet, Activision’s Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and Sega’s Universe at War. Multiplatform support for The Club is also in the works. Platform support varies by title: Guitar Hero III support all platforms, whille Battlefield 2 is PC only.

“We think it would be really cool to build out leaderboards and general information across all platforms, as opposed to isolating them just to the Wii leaderboards or the PlayStation 3 leaderboards,” says Smith. “Those are some of the directions we’ll be headed to in the near future.”

Will casual gamers use GameStrata?

While it would seem natural for a Battlefield 2 player to seek out their gameplay statistics, a Solitaire player might not be as compelled to look at them. Smith feels that even casual players would still like to know how they place. “Even though they might not be as competitive, they still want to win, and they still want to know where they rank.” 

“We look at trend lines. We actually take and store information and show you your progress inside of a game, or inside of a specific attribute of your gameplay. I think that’s compelling, and it crosses over into any game that you play, whether it’s casual or more immersive and more hardcore by definition.”

Smith adds, “If you look at casual games, they’re built around communities. We’re aiding to the community of games; that’s one of our desires.”

What about cheaters?

If GameStrata wants people to respect their tracked data, they need to have some plan to keep cheaters’ scores out of the mix. Smith says that they’re covered by looking at the trend lines that they track.

“After seven days, if you’ve played one game but have an impossible number of kills, we’re able to figure that out and pull those stats from the leaderboard.”

He also feels that  community policing and publisher involvement will help. “We’ll work with the publishers, we’ll work with the community, and we’ll work within our own data to isolate and pull those cheater stats out of the leaderboards.”

Dorf adds, “We have algorithms and whatnot that are programmed into our platform that look for that and extract out and flag cheating that occurs.”

What does GameStrata cost the gamer?

Smith says that GameStrata works with the publisher to provide this free service to gamers. “As long as we’re providing value back to them in the form of good content, we’ll progress.”

Tournaments, sponsorships, and events are planned for the future. 

What about Xbox Live Arcade?

Microsoft’s Live service already tracks scores and rankings for players, but we asked Dorf and Smith if GameStrata plans to grab more in-depth data from Xbox Live Arcade titles for their users.

“We’re not currently supporting any Xbox Live Arcade games, but we definitely see that down the horizon,” says Smith. “We’re exploring that. You’ve got games that are penetrating with a million unique players — that’s really interesting to us.”

The PS3 and Xbox 360 already have leaderboards and rankings, right?

With Microsoft’s Live already packed with leaderboards, and Sony’s HOME with similar plans on the way, why would gamers seek out another place to track their gaming progress? 

“We really want to change the way publisher and gamers think about statistics,” adds Dorf. “And having 50 stats doesn’t mean 50 leaderboards. Having 50 stats could mean a couple hundred leaderboards, depending on how you slice and dice them.” 

“I don’t feel that the game companies have evolved in this area as much as the sports world has evolved in stats tracking, and that’s kind of what we wanted to bring to the videogame space.”

Smith adds, “We want to bring as many games online as we possibly can. In the end, we play these games as well. We’d love to hear feeedback from the community. Let us know what games they want us to support. We’re all ears; it helps us drive and shape our product.” 

Even though GameStrata has just launched, it is currently invite-only. When it finally permits full access to any member and gains a larger library of supported games, I’d be willing to bet this stat tracking, social networking concept could really make some waves. 

Dale North