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Zio Studios, a 45-person animation and gaming startup based in Bogotá, Colombia, has announced that local venture capital firm Promotora, has invested $1.3M in the company in a first round of institutional funding.  According to CEO Alejandro Gonzalez, the new funding will allow Zio Studios to execute on its vision of combining social media and 3D gaming.

Zio Studios includes post-production and animation divisions as well as a gaming unit called Brainz, which recently released a public beta of Social Street Soccer for Facebook. Though untested, some game publishers such as RockYou, with its recent acquisition of TirNua, are pursuing a similar vision of combining 3D gaming and social media.

Though social games have been popular with casual gamers, Gonzalez says there is a sizable market for players looking for something that combines the advantages of social media with the immersive experience of 3D games. Zio Studios plans to launch games that can be played on a multitude of platforms, including mobile devices.

Latin American gaming companies have been in the news quite a bit recently. For example, Argentina-based Three Melons was recently acquired by Playdom. Also, within the past year, Brazilian startup Vostu closed a $30M round and Mentez (also from Brazil) closed a round for an undisclosed amount.

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This round follows an investment of $200,000 last year from angel investor Mauricio Bejarano, a former executive of Los Angeles startup XDrive (now defunct). The new funding will allow the company to double its staff  (including sales), launch several new titles and open an office in California.

Above: Alejandro Gonzalez and Mauricio Bejarano

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