In 2005, long before Foursquare and other LBS became available in the US and elsewhere, cell phone users in Japan were able to play a GPS game called “Coloni-na Seikatsu Plus” (Colony life☆PLUS” or Colopl) on their cell phones.
In the game, players build up a colony, which requires a virtual currency called Pura to be maintained and expanded (for example to provide resources to the colony’s inhabitants). Users can earn Pura by moving around in Japan in the real world – the further they travel, the more Pura they can usually collect and invest into their colony (1 km=1 Pura).
Colopl picked up steam after 2005 (back then, Colopl creator Naruatsu Baba was the only man behind the service), Baba launched a company of the same name to professionalize the service in 2008, and managed to sell a 5% stake to mobile carrier KDDI for a whopping US$6.2 million just last month.
And today, the company officially announced that a total of 2 million users in Japan are playing Colopl (needless to say, it’s the country’s most successful service of its kind). What’s interesting is that the game needed close to 5 years to hit 1 million users in April last year and just 15 months to add a second million.
More information in English on how the game works here and here.
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