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Finnish game developer Supercell has raised $12 million in funding for its hardcore real-time social gaming business.

The investment shows the increasing appetite for investments in social games, especially those that hope to one-up dominant social game companies such as Zynga by providing a next-generation style of game play on platforms such as Facebook.

Accel Partners, which led the $42 million investment in Angry Birds developer Rovio, led the round. Klaas Kersting, founder of Gameforge and chief executive of Flaregames, also participated.

Ilkka Paananen, chief executive of Supercell, said the company is focused on making games that are bigger in scope than most social games but are less involved than massively multiplayer online games or console games. The Helsinki company’s first title is Gunshine, a crime-fighting game where players shoot criminals and other enemies in real-time in a place called Dawnbreak City. It is played from an overhead view. While the action is fast, the graphics aren’t that complex. The game has been in closed beta testing since February and is going to open beta today.

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The company uses Adobe’s Flash 10 platform to create its games. That allows the games to run in a web browser with no need for a download. And while Supercell uses Facebook Connect to help gamers find friends to play with, Gunshine itself is hosted on its own web site, not Facebook. The company also has a way to convert the games to run on just about any platform.

While the company is very late to the social gaming party, Paananen said that Supercell has new features such as the ability to play synchronously, or in real time, with three other friends. You can also play with friends asynchronously, or when they are offline and each takes a turn one at a time.

“We have more immersive and deeper games than most Facebook games,” Paananen said. “Our game is also better when you play it with friends.”

The games will all be free to play, where users can play for free and pay real money for virtual goods in small transactions.

Previous investors include London Venture Partners, Initial Capital, Cerval Investments and Lifeline Ventures.

Supercell was founded in June 2010 and has 20 employees. Kevin Comolli, a partner in the London office of Accel, will join Supercell’s board. The company acknowledges it has hundreds of rivals in online games, from Bigpoint to Gameforge and Innogames. Rivals targeting the hardcore audience on Facebook include Kabam and Kixeye.

“The market is hot now, but you have to do something unique,” Paananen said.

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