- The current glut of Web 2.0-related funding for 'social media' and aggregator sites of many and ridiculous kinds hasn't extended too far into the video game biz, thus far - and that's probably good, because the last thing we need is VCs targeting the game biz with dubiously overoptimistic aspirations of Google-size greatness. However, game search engine Wazap has just announced a $7.9 million round of funding, presumably by dangling some choice game industry demographics in front of investors.

According to the WebProNews report: "Wazap is scheduled to launch in the United States in February... Vertical and niche searches are becoming all the rage, and with the video game industry ripe for takeoff in 2007, the timing for a U.S. launch of the gaming search engine couldn't be better." Hmm... you know what, I'm going to call shenanigans on this one, and here's why.

Firstly, as you guys may remember, Ziff Davis launched Gazerk last E3 - a branded game search engine with the might of editorial sites like 1UP behind it. That went just about nowhere, I'm afraid - interestingly, I just found a discussion of Gazerk and Wazap on the Search Engine Lowdown website. This doesn't augur well for Wazap, which has no such editorial sites to drive eyeballs.

And more to the point, check out this Alexa graph showing the major Wazap sites - as can be seen, it's Wazap.jp which is driving most of the traffic, and a visit to a game page on Wazap.jp reveals a site (running since 2001 or so!) that has little to do with search engines - it's much more of a GameFAQs-style site, with messageboards, cheats, and release info for each game. It's a really nice site, but 'search engine'? Nope.

However, Wazap.de, the much newer site (here's a results page for Children Of Mana) is much closer to a 'gaming search engine', with vanilla web results alongside eBay/retail store purchase links, etc. This is presumably what Wazap is intending to roll out in the States - and honestly, I don't see it making much of a splash.

So, the Search Engine Lowdown site raves: "According to eMarketer, 40% of American adults play video games (35% female, 45% male). When those percentages are converted into sheer numbers and sales, that is a staggering market to enter." No, no, no - this is missing the point. When I want to search for info about video games, I use Google. When it's about video game news, I use Google News (for formal reports) and Technorati (for less formal reports).

So, in conclusion - VC funders need to think more carefully about what they're supporting. For me (and, I believe, most people) - here's absolutely nothing specific about games that would make we want to remember to switch to a game-only search engine. Would I switch to a dog-specific search engine when looking for info about my dachshund? Nope.

What Wazap needs is its Japanese site (which is smart, but has pretty much nothing to do with the horribly buzzwordy 'search') rolled out over all territories, and it needs to have done that back in, uhm, 2000 or so in order to have built up a significant community, which is the one thing money can't buy. Still, I don't imagine venture money extends to funding time reversal just yet?