Bucharest-based gaming platform for city exploration Questo has raised $1.5 million in venture funding.
The investment round was by Early Game Ventures and was backed by Sparking Capital.
Questo offers real-world city exploration games that enable tourists and locals to discover and learn about a city on their own, guided by the mobile app.
Players explore cities by solving challenges and riddles based on their immediate surroundings, unlocking new places and their stories.
Each quest has a unique theme and role-playing mission based on local historical facts, legends, books or movies taking users to around 15 locations over an average of two hours.
The games are created by locals or in partnership with business partners including tour operators, attractions and airlines on a revenue share basis.
Alex Govoreanu, Questo chief executive, who co-founded the firm in 2017, said: “People spend most of their lives in cities.
“Our mission is to enable them to fully enjoy every visible or unknown layer of the city, no matter if they’re travellers or locals.
“Questo uses storytelling and game design to teleport people to a fantasy story in their city, intertwining fiction with reality.
“We like to think of it like steam for real-world games, where our players are the main characters, and the local storytellers are the game developers.
“Currently, our primary focus is on exploration games, but the options are endless.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Questo more than doubled the number of cities it operates in from 40 at the beginning of 2020 to over 100 in four continents.
The new investment will further global expansion as Questo aims to offer games in all the world’s most visited places in the upcoming years and hit 200 by the end of this year.
Questo says it has a particular focus on the US market, but also on Spain where it already has games available in a range of cities and more scheduled to launch.
Cristian Munteanu, managing partner at Early Game Ventures, said: “We concluded our first investment in Questo less than a year ago and are very happy to follow up with a substantial commitment.
“The high in-app engagement, the global scalability, and the incredible traction even in times of the pandemic made the investment decision quite self-evident.”
Vlad Panait, managing partner at Sparking Capital, added: “In 2020, Questo developed the organizational, partnerships, and platform infrastructure which will allow them to have exponential growth when tourism will start recovering.
“We kept the same high confidence in Alex and his team that they are able to accomplish this growth.”