Casual gaming startup Giga Fun Studios has raised $2.4 million in seed funding led by gaming and interactive media-focused venture fund Lumikai and early-stage investment firm Fireside Ventures, the company said on January 11.
All In Capital, Kettleborough VC and Riverwalk Holdings also participated in the funding round, the company said, underlining the growing interest in studios building games based on Indian culture.
The company plans to use the funds to build next-generation casual games for Indian and global audiences. It also plans to "invest heavily" in building a team of casual game developers, Giga Fun Studios said in a statement.
The Bengaluru-based startup was founded by a trio of seasoned game designers and developers Krishnendu Mukherjee, former head of game design at Mobile Premier League (MPL), Rahul Daga, former country head at m56 Studios, and Rahul Shekhar, former engineering lead at m56 Studios.
The founders have collectively shipped and operated more than 10 games with experience managing gaming P&L’s of more than $100 million, the company said in a statement.
"With over 5 billion downloads, India is one of the largest download markets for casual games. Our belief is that with the right themes and geo-specific mechanics, we will be able to crack adoption and monetization for casual games in India" said Mukherjee, who is also the CEO.
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‘Exporting Indian culture’
Giga Fun Studios stated that it plans to focus on designing games with geo accessibility and simple but compelling game loops, customised UI/UX design for domestic gamers, accessible pricing, and distribution via third-party app stores.
The long-term goal is to "export the richness of Indian culture globally through casual metas, creating the King of India", it said.
Mukherjee said while popular casual games such as Candy Crush are very high in quality, they haven't been able to fully unlock an Indian player base due to a lack of cultural resonance.
"This is additionally visible in the lack of monetisation participation of the Indian player" he said.
"According to our recently released India State of Gaming 2022 report, 80 percent of gamers show a high proclivity to play games based on Indian IP," said Justin Shriram Keeling, Founding General Partner, Lumikai.
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Vocal for local
Culture-themed casual games have the potential to unlock massive disruption in the gaming space in India, he said.
"We look forward to supporting them with our deep gaming expertise and network on their mission to build a match3 engine that'll allow them to build high-quality games, built specifically with geo-specific mechanics, localised game loops, unique distribution and India first monetisation" he added.
Shreyans Gangwal, Vice President, Fireside Ventures said globally, gaming was already eclipsing movies and music by “~3x and is one of the largest and fastest emerging sectors of digital consumption”.
“This will serve the unmet needs of Indian consumers to drive a multi-billion dollar market opportunity over the next few years,” he said.
High-quality and deeply localised games built on proven game formats with the right in-app purchase-driven monetisation are likely to be the first beneficiaries in the wave of gaming which is expected to be $8.5 billion-plus market opportunity in India, Gangwal said.