Google-backed startup takes location game global

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Google-backed mobile social gaming startup SCVNGR unveiled a global push on Tuesday, adding locations around the world to its so far United States focused offering.

Since its May launch in the United States, the service, which links elements of gaming and location-based services, has gathered more than half a million users -- growing at faster speed than most rivals in the sector.

On Tuesday it said it had added global locations from Google’s Places database to its service.

“Our goal has always been to build the game layer on top of the world. But until today, we were missing a critical component ... the rest of the world,” said Seth Priebatsch, SCVNGR’s chief.

Location services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt, which allow consumers to use their cell phones to keep track of their friends’ whereabouts and earn rewards for frequenting brick-and-mortar businesses, have caught on among technology aficionados.

In addition to checking in at different locations, users of SCVNGR, pronounced ‘scavenger’, can play games and create challenges related to the places for each other.

Priebatsch said the company was set to seek additional funding to finance the expansion as the firm aims to build business relations locally with partners like telecom carriers.

“That’s really exciting, and very expensive,” he said.

“SCVNGR’s rapid growth means investors are always knocking at our door. And at some point, with them pounding this hard, it’ll make sense for us to answer.”

The company has so far raised around $5 million from Google and Highland Capital after the initial $35,000 from seed investor DreamIT.