OverDog seeks funding for gamers, athletes

What's better than playing "Madden"? Playing "Madden" with your favorite athlete. Courtesy of EA Sports

It’s one thing to hit a David Price tailing four-seamer in “MLB 2K13,” but what about trying to smack it out of the park with the real Price yapping in your ear and talking junk over the Xbox Live headset?

That’s the idea behind OverDog, a company co-founded by former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer we wrote about in December, as the company attempts to connect fans with their favorite athletes through the world of video games.

OverDog hit Kickstarter this week, seeking $100,000 in capital and offering gamers who pledge as little as $20 the chance to play athletes before site subscriptions go public.

“We’re looking for a better way to connect athletes and fans, and to be honest, I’m surprised nothing like this already existed,” Hillenmeyer said. “Athletes are huge gamers. They’re young, they’re competitive, and they have a lot of free time. And with so many athletes already jumping on Facebook or Twitter to challenge their fans, we were surprised that there was no better way to do this.

“Our objective from the beginning is just to build a great experience to connect these two groups that share this passion for playing video games.”

OverDog plans to launch as a mobile app in April where athletes will issue challenges in the video games of their choosing -- such as “Madden,” “Call of Duty” and “NBA 2K” -- with more features like fan-versus-fan and pro-versus-pro grudge matches being worked in throughout the launch phase.

“Fans will receive the challenge through a push notification, through the athlete’s Twitter feed, or whatever other ways they opt to receive this information,” Hillenmeyer said. “So if Devin Hester issues a challenge in ‘Madden,’ whether you’re a Bears fan or a Miami Hurricanes fan, you’ll want to play Devin, so you’ll accept the challenge, and basically, you’re entering yourself in almost like a lottery for the ability to play Devin in that game.

“What we’re selling on Kickstarter amounts to purchasing a subscription. Once you’ve purchased that and you’re inside the app, you have access to all the content including video challenges from athletes [and] unlimited drawing entries for your chance to play against your favorite athlete … There’s no cap on how many challenges you can accept or how many times you can play against an athlete once you’ve purchased a subscription.”

And to Hillenmeyer, that thrill of playing a video game against an athlete who’s actually in the game is something beyond any experience you might have merely watching them play at a stadium.

Said Hillenmeyer: “We don’t want this to be a luxury item for the wealthiest people who come and crowd OverDog. We want this to be something anybody can participate in. That’s why right now on Kickstarter, the early bird subscription is only $20, and for everybody else, it will be $25, and that’s for the duration of 2013. When you put that into context of what you pay for an autograph or the cost of a soda and a burger at a sporting event, much less buying a ticket to an NFL or NBA game, I think it’s pretty remarkable, the access you get to the athletes, for what it’s going to cost you. The exciting thing is, if you support us on Kickstarter, we’re going to have a lot of athletes on there from day one, and since we’re limiting the number of people who will be on the site for the first few months, you’ll never have a better chance to play against an athlete than right away.

“You might never be able to tackle Adrian Peterson or hit a Stephen Strasburg fastball, but when you put a game controller in people’s hands, we’re all equals.”