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Raptr Launches Public Beta, Can Now Buy An “O”

Raptr, the social gaming network for “everyone,” launched its public beta yesterday. The system prides itself on avoiding the hardcore and inaccessible “gamer” stigma, aiming to appease everyone, from the “one game of Solitaire after dinner” users to “60 games of Counter-Strike later and I’m out of Bawls” players. Those familiar with Xfire (read: everyone) will find a recognizable companion in this new social experience, as its CEO and founder is Xfire’s co-founder, Dennis Fong.

So what does Raptr have to offer at this point in the development process? The most obvious and primary feature is its buddy list, where you can keep tabs on what your friends are currently playing, or have most recently played. Unfortunately, adding friends turned out to be a bust for me–as the search function would not find the one other person I knew was using the client. You have to add friends via the site’s portal, not in-client, and the search isn’t quite tuned. And so, currently, I have no friends.

The client’s ability to automatically detect your games and load them into the “Games” tab is very interesting–especially considering it really plays up the “all players” aspect by loading in games like Freecell, Minesweeper, browser-based MMOs (I still had Wonderland Online on my PC, which Raptr diligently reminded me of, though I wish it had also automatically deleted it). It checks for patches and updates, which is a nice feature, but not revolutionary or really in demand, considering most games (and other networks) already manage this. The client also updates and tracks friends’ gaming habits on the 360, thanks to Microsoft sharing Xbox LIVE’s backend with Raptr’s developers–but the PS3 is still an elusive beast yet to be tamed. Unfortunately so are certain people’s Xbox LIVE data: my profile has a continuous “Data is loading from Xbox Live” update at mid-completion, but I hope that once I sign into LIVE, my info will be kick-started into Raptr.

Favorite other stalker-esque feature: the constantly updated News Feed on the site, that lets me know “sentinel” added Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass to his / her list of games, and that “johnsolo” has a level 16 Gnome Warlock in World of Warcraft. Weaksauce.

Overall, the site and client look promising, if the features become functional in the near future. I’m slightly creeped out that Raptr knows June is my peak month for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne action, but if anyone’s going to be disturbingly in tune with my gaming life, I’m glad it’s an adorable little ‘Raptr,’ always looking over his shoulder in delusionally paranoid fashion.

Check out complete details at TechCrunch, or the Raptr site itself.