Hard-core players who turn up their noses at social games -- like Zynga's FarmVille and other online fare -- should meet Kevin Chou. Chou's videogame company, Kabam, uses the web as its main interface, but it isn't for lightweights ("casual gamers," in industry parlance). Kabam's first game out of the gate, Kingdoms of Camelot, was intended as a valentine to veterans of complex games like Civilization and Starcraft. He's published five games and racked up 11 million players who average more than three hours of play per session. Kabam's latest investment round raised $85 million from Google Ventures and other backers, validating what Chou has known for some time now: He's on to something big.
Wall Street is buzzing about IPOs from LinkedIn, Groupon, and Zynga. But what about those small, innovative companies looking to cash in? Fortune spotlights ones that show lots of promise.
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