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Virtual Worlds Investment Reach $493 million

According to a Virtual Worlds Management market study, venture capital and media firms have invested more than $148.5 million in twelve virtual worlds-related companies during the third quarter of 2008 -- with participation from many more VC firms and angel investors.

The total investment in the virtual worlds space for 2008 is now over $493 million. The news was announced just prior to the upcoming Virtual Worlds London conference.

The bulk of the investment is in the entertainment space, with all but $22.4 million going to developers of worlds with strong game-play elements, ties to media brands, or the youth sector.

Youth worlds are constantly on the rise, and investors remain interested in backing them as long as they can find unique propositions.

"Many smaller investments were made across a spectrum of youth-oriented virtual worlds," explained Joey Seiler, Editor of Virtual Worlds News. "$35.64 million was invested in seven virtual worlds aimed at kids through teens. That's up significantly from Q1's $16.03 million in eight youth virtual worlds and Q2, which saw no investment targeted at youth worlds."

The numbers overall are down from earlier quarters this year, but that's true of the overall venture capital space as well. Investors, while still remaining active, are warning portfolio companies that future rounds may be even tougher to pull in.

Socializing, entertainment, and games remain strong among consumers, though, as well as investors.

"Even when the economy is taking a downturn, consumers still want to have fun. When a parent's choices are between $60 for a one-off, triple-A video game, $10 for a two-hour movie, or a free-to-play virtual world for their children, it's clear there's still plenty of room to grow," said Christopher Sherman, Executive Director, Virtual Worlds Management.

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