Swedish social game startup Planeto has released its new game Planeto Quiz into open beta available for all players late last week. Planeto calls the game “the world’s first massively multiplayer online quiz”, MMOQ. The idea of the game is to combine elements from quiz competitions and online multiplayer games, e.g. World of Warcraft,  including role-playing elements like character building and player interaction – but all packaged for global mass-market audience.

Planeto was founded in 2009 by Martin Walfisz and Magnus Robertsson. Martin Walfisz founded the Swedish PC game development studio Massive Entertainment (130+ employees, now part of Ubisoft) in 1997 and ran it as the CEO for twelve years.

Martin told ArcticStartup that last year he felt that he wanted to become a real entrepreneur again, and wanted to learn more about the emerging social games sector. As he was previously dealing with male-specific “hardcore” games, with his new venture he now wanted to go as mass market possible. Studying the market, Martin came to the conclusion that quiz games are probably the most casual and widely played of all games. He also concluded that in his view quiz gaming is totally underdeveloped in the online world as a genre.

Planeto raised a seed round in December 2009, getting about 600,000 euros (~$765k USD) from local angels. The company is currently in process of raising another seed round of EUR 500k-1 million. (If you are an early stage investor and interested in the company, get in touch with Martin.)

Planeto Quiz is located in its own website, linking to Facebook with Facebook Connect, due to Planeto’s team feeling that they can enable more immersive experience that way, using all of the screen area. Planeto is only targeting Facebook audience to start with, but may add new social networks later on.

The game is extremely easy to pick up, as can be expected from a quiz. You need to login with Facebook Connect, and after that you are right in the action. A few extra twists along with the basic gameplay is taught gradually as you proceed with questions. As you proceed through questions, you earn badges (like Clueless – answering 1000 questions incorrectly) and powerups that can be used for instance to eliminate incorrect answers, extend the answer time, and boost your highscore multiplier.

The game is monetized through the use of in-game virtual currency the users can buy more of with real money. The in-game currency, Planeto Gold, is used for buying the power-ups and boosters.

Planeto Quiz has been developed now for about 6 months. As a reason for the seemingly long development time, Martin explains that the they are actually building a real MMO backend that allows for advanced multiplayer features.

Currently, one is able to have a quiz duel with friends if they are online at the same time. The team has many further ideas for possible multiplaeyer features, however, and is planning to also add asynchronous multiplayer mode which does not require one’s opponent to be online at the same time. Other things that may be coming later are team vs. team, cooperative quiz play, quiz adventures, leagues, and tournaments, Martin lists. Planeto is focused on trying to find a balance between “hardcore” syncronous multiplayer and casual cooperative asynchronous gaming.

Planeto’s idea is really good, as nearly everyone enjoys a quiz game, while might not play other type of games online. It remains to be seen how well the firm is able to actively engage and retain their players with the multiplayer/community features (as that is the key to monetization), so that the service won’t be just very occasional or one-off fun to the majority of players. At least the foundation looks solid, and there is good reference from iPhone Words with Friends already that these kinds of “simple” multiplayer games can be mass market hits.