Playfish Swims with $17 Million

Social gaming company Playfish this morning announced that it has raised $17 million in Series B funding, which brings its total venture capitalization to $21 million. Accel Partners and Index Ventures co-led the round, with Accel’s Kevin Comilli and Index’s Ben Holmes joining the London-based company’s board of directors.

If you’re not familiar with Playfish, that probably means that you’re not a regular denizen of Facebook. The company’s games — including Bowling Buddies, Word Challenge and Who Has The Biggest Brain — are staples on the platform, with users able to compete against one another (and keep track of who has the best score). Playfish also recently added its games to MySpace, and plans to expand across other social networks.

“Moving our games to a new social network is pretty straightforward technologically, but the challenge is to understand how people interact and play together differently on one than on another,” says Playfish CEO Kristian Segerstrale. “It’s mostly a creative challenge.”

Playfish currently has a two-legged revenue model. First, it recently partnered with Google to begin in-game advertising. Second, its users engage in micro-transactions to purchase various add-ons to the free games, such as personal avatars.

“No one knows what’s going to happen with the economy, but we are confident that both in-game advertising and the social gaming transaction business will grow,” Segerstrale says. “They are both in their very early stages.”

Segerstrale declined to discuss future fundraising plans, or a valuation for the Series B round. I also asked him if there was a Commando-like backdoor to Word Challenge, because I simply cannot top an old college pal of mine. He asked if I planned to publish it. I said no. So let’s just leave it at that…

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