Launched in Japan as early as 2005, "Colopl", a simulation in which cell phone users manage a virtual colony, is probably one of the earliest geo-aware games out there. The namesake company made "Coloni-na Seikatsu Plus" (Colony-like Life) available to subscribers of NTT Docomo, SoftBank Mobile, and KDDI au.
In the game, players collect a virtual currency dubbed "pura" when traveling from one point in Japan to another. They can then use this money and virtual items collected in those places to create a "colony" on their cell phone (more information in English on how the game works here and here).
The concept took off, Colopl inked a few deals with partner companies, and in November last year (when Colopl had 1.5 million users), KDDI entered a partnership with the company.
And today the Nikkei is reporting that Japan's 2nd largest carrier is ready to buy a 5% stake in Colopl that's worth 500 million Yen ($6.2 million). In other words, the company is now valued at $125 million - a very high sum, as far as the Japanese market is concerned. By way of comparison: last year, Foursquare's valuation at the last round of financing stood at $95 million pre-money.
KDDI is Foursquare's partner in Japan since February. The carrier also invested in Tokyo-based mobile app startup Tonchidot, struck a tie-up with social games maker Rekoo (both last year), and invested in mobile social gaming juggernaut GREE in 2007.
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