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VCs pump £2m into BarrysWorld online game empire

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UK online gaming company BarrysWorld has secured £2 million funding to improve its network and recruit more users. from venture capitalists 3i Group. Venture capitalist company 3i will initially give BarrysWorld £1 million, with another £1 million due before the end of the year. The gaming company is looking for £3 million in total to progress with its expansion plans, and expects to confirm within the next two weeks who will be providing the extra cash. It plans to use the cash in three main areas –technology, staff and marketing. It has just signed a deal with Cisco for a loan to upgrade its hardware and software, and the improved network system is expected to go live in July. "First we need to get our infrastructure up to date," said Gerraint Bungay, BarrysWorld sales and marketing director. "The service has suffered because it has been so popular. It has not been as good as the BarrysWorld of old because it is overloaded. We aim to get it back on track and then onto the next stage – to make it the fastest online games network in Europe." The company will also plough cash into recruiting new users for the service. Between June and November it will target the rest of the hardcore gamers in the UK. The marketing campaign will include most of the consumer press, with plans to spend £150,000 on online advertising. Directors are keen not to alienate the service's current 22,000 users, but say the company will start looking for more 'softcore' users to expand its user database – from sites such as one.net and gameplay.com - early next year. There are also plans to take on more staff – it has brought in ex Demon business development director Adrian Brownlow as MD, and will have 20 staff by the end of May. It will be looking for another round of funding later this year. BarrysWorld, started by a bunch of gaming enthusiasts in 1998, has 22,000 registered online gamers. ® Related stories £10m says Gameplay is European gateway Brazil bans Quake and other PC games Pokeman more desirable than sex and MP3

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