CryptoKitties, the blockchain-based virtual game which became a sensation on the Ethereum network, has raised $12m from a string of high-profile investors.

The idea behind CryptoKitties, which is being spun off as a separate venture from developer Axiom Zen, is to make blockchain technology more accessible and relevant to everyday consumers. 

The $12m funding round was led by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, who have also backed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Coinbase.

A number of angel investors also took part in the investment round, including AngelList founder and CEO Naval Ravikant, Zynga founder Mark Pincus and Fred Ehrsam, former founder of Coinbase.

CryptoKitties lets users create and breed virtual cats and store the digital genetic material on the blockchain as new generations of kitties are created.

Users can then buy and sell the cats using the Ethereum cryptocurrency.

Often described as a kind of Pokémon for the age of blockchain, CryptoKitties has gained more than 1.5 million players since its debut in November 2017.

In a blog post announcing the investment, CryptoKitties said: "We envision a world of play, one without limits. Where ownership is real, and the things you create and discover, you can keep forever. Where games can be entire economies, unlocking mutual incentives for players and builders to extend the gaming experience. Where the world is built by everyone who chooses to be a part of it - especially you. The future is meow."

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