Monday 16th May 2011
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Trade Me founder Sam Morgan led a $2.5 million investment round for Auckland-based social game SmallWorlds.
The investment is to be used to fund the expansion of the company, which said it aimed to be earning $100 million in exports by 2013.
In the game, players can choose to buy virtual goods to personalise their character and spaces.
SmallWorlds said the model of selling virtual goods for micro-transactions to a large online audience was increasingly popular.
"The game is free to play but the scale we can achieve with social networking audiences means that only a small percentage of players need to purchase premium content and virtual goods in order to create significant revenues," SmallWorlds co-founder Mitch Olson said.
The site's audience was already growing by about 200,000 players each month, predominately made up of teenagers, as well as women in their 40s, with 80% of players coming from the United States.
SmallWorlds said it now had 6.5m registered players and 35 staff, with plans for another 20 jobs this year.
Morgan said online businesses, such as SmallWorlds, could grow quickly while maintaining high margins.
Gaming was a huge export opportunity for this country, he said.
"Our next wave of multi-million dollar exporters may well be trading virtual goods, which is a real and significant global market."
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