Nokia’s stock may have dipped to 1998 levels in the last few days on worries about its new smartphone strategy with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), but there are some good-news stories coming out of Finland’s mobile world, too. Grey Area, the Helsinki-headquartered, location-based social mobile game developer, has announced that it has picked up €1.9 million ($2.6 million) in a round of funding led by Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital.
In a post on the site Arctic Startup, Ville Vesterinen, the CEO of Grey Area (and also a founder of Arctic Startup), says that the funds will be used to help the company extend into the U.S. market.
Lifeline Ventures, which had contributed to a seed round for the company, also participated.
Going west to markets where mobile social gaming is very popular, with a high-profile backer like Index, is a significant step for Grey Area to expand its business. Recent numbers from the app discovery and tracking company Flurry noted that 64 percent of all mobile social gamers worldwide are located in the U.S.
Grey Area released its first game, Shadow Cities, last year as a beta on Apple’s App Store in Finland only. The game cleverly makes use of the phone’s location-aware and mapping capabilities, to create a game where people play each other in their present surroundings.
The game, which is free to play but features options for in-game purchases, quickly shot to the top of the Finnish App Store rankings.
You can see how a game like Shadow Cities can develop with additional layers of functionality, such as augmented reality interfaces. But it already plays on the nexus of several important trends in mobile content — namely location-based services, social media and gaming.
Although this first game is only for the iPhone, the company will in future develop for other smartphone platforms as well.
If you want a better idea of how the game works, watch the video below: