Almost exactly a year ago, Mitch Olson hinted at a move for SmallWorlds – the hugely popular online game he cofounded with Darren Green – into new, non-English countries, beginning with Brazil. Indeed, SmallWorlds launched into the Brazilian market in mid-May, and three months on, has already racked up one million registered users.
The Brazilian version is called MiniMundos and marks the first international localisation of SmallWorlds, which is owned by Auckland-based company Outsmart.
“We’ve known for a long time that we’ve been on to something special with SmallWorlds,” said Olson.
“Our product has a lot of advantages over the competition and we’ve continued to steadily win market share in the English-speaking markets. Going into Brazil with such a strong product and the insight that we’ve gained over the years with SmallWorlds has given us a natural springboard.”
At the 100-day mark, MiniMundos has been growing at a "meteoric" rate of up to 25,000 registrations per day, surpassing all expectations, according to Outsmart marketing manager Nicole Scheid.
SmallWorlds is an in-browser freemium game and hang-out spot, with elements reminiscent of Second Life and Farmville. Users choose avatars, then roam through the virtual world, interacting with others and undertaking quests, even purchasing upgrades for product within it.
It first received financial support from the New Zealand government soon after its inception in 2008, and nabbed another $1.8 million in 2011 (in fact, Olson and Green turned down an approach from MTV to buy it even before the platform had launched).
To date it has focused on the US and UK markets, but there's plenty of opportunity outside of those regions as well. Plans are underway to adapt SmallWorlds for a number of other areas, including a Spanish version for the Latin American market.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).