Smith & Tinker, a Bellevue, Wash.-based game company, today announced it’s raised $29 million from Alsop Louie Partners, DCM, Foundry Group, Leo Capital Holdings, and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. The money will primarily fund Nanovor, an ambitious kids’ game that will extend across multiple platforms, from online games to animated videos to comics and handheld toys. Smith & Tinker President and co-founder Joe Lawandus told me in a call yesterday that the goal is to create a game that combines all the ways kids play online and offline into a unified experience.
Nanovor, the company’s first game, is at heart a collectible creature-vs.-creature battle game similar to Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh!. It also hits a number of sweet spots I highlighted in my recent GigaOM Pro analysis of successful virtual worlds (subscription required). Like the extremely popular Webkinz, kids can access online content by purchasing toys at retail, and similar to Maple Story, RuneScape, and most other huge MMOs, kids can buy virtual currency via debit cards sold at retail. Nanovor also integrates elements that have worked with older gamers, including alternate reality game aspects, and a virtual economy. (Kids can buy and sell their creatures online, with the company taking a cut of each transaction.)
Lawandus expects Nanovor to be cash-positive within the next 18 months. And if my nephew starts regaling me about Electropods and other odd Nanovor beasties this holiday season, I’ll believe that forecast.
Nanovor image courtesy Smith & Tinker.