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Casual gaming start-up Giga Fun Studios today announced that they have raised $2.4 million in seed funding.
Lumikai, India’s pioneering gaming and interactive media-focused VC fund, and the consumer specialists Fireside Ventures led the round. All In Capital, Kettleborough VC and Riverwalk Holdings also participated in this round.
The company will use the money create a new benchmark in casual games built to high quality for Indian and global audiences. The founders have extensive experience building leading casual games for India and the world previously at leading developers like Zynga and m56, and will be investing heavily on curating a stellar team as a hub for “best in India” casual game developers.
The founders are designing games with geo accessibility and simple but compelling game loops, customized user interface and user experience 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.
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The founders include Krishnendu Mukherjee, former head of game design at MPL and a Zynga lead product manager; Rahul Daga, former director of products at Zynga and former country head at m56 Studios; and Rahul Shekhar, former engineering lead at m56 Studios.
“We have been brainstorming the idea of creating a gaming studio that caters to the Indian audience and the core problem we mutually identified was that while current dominant 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,” Mukherjee said in a statement. “This is additionally visible in the lack of monetization participation of the Indian player. With over five 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.”
The founders have collectively shipped and operated over 10 games and managed titles with profits above $100 million.
“According to our recently released India State of Gaming 2022 report, 80% of gamers show a high proclivity to play games based on Indian intellectual property,” said Justin Shriram Keeling, founding general partner at Lumikai, in a statement. “We believe that culture-themed casual games have the potential to unlock massive disruption in the gaming space in India. We’re excited to be partnering with Giga Fun Studios at an early stage and 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, localized game loops, unique distribution and India first monetization.”
Mukherjee said in an email to GamesBeat that the current financial environment has been tough for raising capital, especially for a company in an early stage.
He said the company had to be “more detailed and meticulous about our value proposition to the players and our understanding of the Indian player base. We had some very productive discussions with Lumikai Ventures, and found alignment in our vision for the market.”
The same was true in linking up with Fireside Ventures, and that led to more institutional investors joining the round. As for the inspiration for the company, Mukherjee said the company had two insights about the local market.
“First was localized experiences that still delivered a global quality of gameplay. The second was the expectation that the Indian player does not monetize,” he said. “The second notion was proven wrong with the amount of money Indians were paying for mid-core games. This was core to our thesis, that the Indian player will pay for the right type of content and the playbook for that does not exist today. This inspired us to focus on designing local experiences keeping the Indian player at its center.
The company has six employees in Bangalore.
Shriram Keeling said in an email, “Despite the overall bear cycle we’re seeing in late-stage investments and the public markets, the competition for experienced, ambitious founders in early-stage gaming is still fierce. We’re honored that Krish and the team chose to partner with Lumikai as they embark on tapping into this exciting white space.”
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