Australian gaming startup Virtual Gaming Worlds has proven that being shut out of Kickstarter need not end a project. Four weeks after its campaign to raise $50,000 was suspended from the crowd-sourced funding site without explanation, the Perth-based company has closed a AU$2.5 million (US$2.6 million) Series A round.
The Virtual Gaming Worlds campaign aimed to crowdsource the money to develop Chumba World, its massive multiplayer online casino game for Facebook — think SimCity meets Vegas (without the connectivity issues). The game allows users to become ‘the house’ and build their own casinos, slot machines, games tables using avatars as their characters. Other players can join in and play at casinos, allowing owners to make virtual money which can be converted the real cash (Virtual Gaming Worlds takes a cut).
The Kickstarter campaign was terminated four days after launch with no explanation given. That’s despite the fact, Virtual Gaming Worlds says, that it had been reviewed three times before approval (Kickstarter says it doesn’t comment on specific cases for legal and privacy reasons.)
In the aftermath of that disappointment, Virtual Gaming Worlds said it would explore venture capital options and it has secured the round, which is led by Triple C Consulting, a boutique investment firm in Perth. The additional publicity around the controversy almost certainly helped boost Virtual Gaming Worlds’ profile and aided its pursuit of cash.
The funding is going to be used to secure a gambling license, as well as marketing the app on Facebook and developing a dedicated mobile version. The company also says it will develop new features that enable players to monetize their casinos.
There are currently 10 games in Chumba Casino with “many more in development”.
Online gaming, and social gambling in particular, is a contentious topic given the dangers of gambling addictions, the possibility to lose money and the issue of underage gambling. However, the potential to make revenue is drawing the interest and money of VCs and top games firms:
- Facebook strikes deal with 888 to launch more real-money gaming apps in the UK
- Gamesys acquires Virgin Games to bolster real-money and social gambling games portfolio
- French social games studio Mandala teams up with Betable for real-money gambling push
- “Launching soon”, Zynga brings multiplayer slot machines to Facebook with “Zynga Elite Games”
First up, Chumba World needs to sort out its service. In the interest of due diligence, TNW tested the service but were repeatedly unable to load it past 50 percent.
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