Leeuu, a Chinese online gaming company that owns a virtual world called Romantic Chateau Online, says it has received several million dollars in funding from Redpoint Ventures, according to Chinese blog China Web2.0 Review.
The Beijing-based company’s home site offers casual games. Romantic Chateau Online, which launched in beta last month, appears to incorporate this gaming focus. It doesn’t just have virtual houses, virtual goods, chat, etc. like many other virtual worlds. It also requires users to plant virtual crops, raise virtual animals and mine virtual metal, to produce virtual raw materials that can then be sold for virtual money, reports China Web2.0 Review.
Virtual worlds are growing, and so are online games — and so is internet usage in China.
While we are not Chinese speakers — and so not able to fully appreciate what Leeuu has to offer — market forces suggest this company is a good bet.
Club Penguin, an antarctic-themed kid-safe virtual world, sold to Disney earlier this month in a deal worth up to $700 million.
Some 217 million unique visitors played online game sites in May, worldwide, according to Comscore — its report notes that Yahoo! Games dominated in Asian countries, with 20.9 million unique visitors.
More than 90 million people accessed the web in China the same month, according to a separate Comscore report. Pew, another research group, puts the total current number of internet users in China at 137 million, and says growth rates have been averaging around twenty percent per year — meaning the online market is getting big, fast (pdf).
In fact, China Web2.0 Review also points to a report (in Chinese) that another virtual world, Hipihi, has received an investment of between $7 and $10 million —
also from RedPoint Ventures from an un-named source, although the company says it has previously taken on funding from the Guangcai Investment Group Co. In apparent contrast with Romantic Chateau’s virtual blue-collar economy, Hipihi promises God-like power for users (screenshot below).