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Nearly $600 million in VC for virtual worlds

Companies behind virtual worlds garnered more than $594 million in venture investments in 2008, according to a new report.

Virtual world and supporting companies raised more than $594 million in 2008, according to a new report from Virtual Worlds Management.

While this represents a small portion of total venture dollars, there are some large deals ($100 million and $70 million), as well as ones typical of early-stage companies ($500,000 to $4 million).

I'm not sure why it takes so much money to build these popular virtual worlds, but it seems that investors still have an appetite to provide money. The fourth quarter saw $101 million in investment, with Gofish, Playfish, and Playspan grabbing $22.5 million, $17 million, and $16 million, respectively.

The biggest virtual-world investments of '08:

  • 9You (China): $100 million
  • Realtime Worlds: $50 million
  • Turbine: $40 million
  • Trion: $70 million

Those are some pretty significant bets from the investment community. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in light of the decrease in consumer spending.

As a side note, if anyone can explain why all these virtual-world companies have the word "fish" (Playfish, Gofish, TwoFish) in them, I would appreciate it. Hit me on Twitter @daveofdoom.