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"Learn-to-play" studio Lightneer closes seed funding at $5 million

Finnish studio founded by ex-Rovio staff, scientists and academics prepares for first release

New studio Lightneer has closed its seed funding round at $5 million, following a flurry of investment.

The round was spearheaded by the Chicago and San Francisco-based GSV Acceleration, with investment from Helsinki's IPR.VC, the Parisian Brighteye VC and Reach Capital from Silicon Valley.

The closure of the seed funding comes as the studio prepares for the launch of its educational game Big Bang Legends, which demonstrates the 'learn-to-play' concept on which the studio has been established.

Based in Finland, Lightneer was co-founded by former Rovio brand ambassador and 'Mighty Eagle' Peter Vesterbacka, the Angry Birds studio's ex lead game designer and creative director Lauri Konttori, and Lauri Järvilehto, who previously headed up the Rovio Fun Learning initiative.

Lightneer equally stands as a collaboration with Oxford Professor Marcus du Sautoy and prominent anti-matter expert Rolf Landua from CERN, lending a degree of academic credibility to its aims to create meaningfully educational content.

When Vesterbacka departed Rovio in June, he openly talked about his aims with regards to educational content, and asserted he remains close to the Rovio team, and a shareholder at the company.

"After 3 billion downloads, and an extremely knowledgeable fanbase legacy of sling-shotting experts, we thought that what if we could give them something useful within the game mechanics too," said Vesterbacka of his new project as the funding was confirmed.

"Something as fun and entertaining as the best games in the world, with science invisible-learning qualities. What would the world look like, if the best games taught us particle physics?"

Having soft launched in South East Asia, Hong Kong and Finland thus far, Big Bang Legends is already thriving on the educational and gaming charts.

Lightneer itself is pitched as a learning platform built on a game engine, offering low cost subscriptions with its "learn-to-play" model. Paying users will enjoy additional benefits like access to 30-second "mini lectures" from the rostrum of involved scientists and experts.

Big Bang Legends explores the 118 atoms of the periodic table, presenting them as collectible characters. "Kids can learn hundreds of Pokémons, and all of their features by heart," suggested Lightneer's CEO Järvilehto. "How hard can 118 atom-heroes be to learn?"

The game will launch globally in early 2018.

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