India’s gaming start-up, Loco , has received USD 42 million in funding from A South Korean venture fund, Hashed, amid an unparalleled frenzy from gamers that has overtaken the country. India has a population of almost 1.4 billion people, many of whom are gamers in tier-1 and tier-2 cities.
Several new investors participated in the series A round of funding, including Catamaran Ventures, Makers Fund, Krafton Inc., Lumikai Ltd., and Hiro Capital. Catamaran Ventures is owned by Narayan Murthy, the founder of Infosys in India.
Funds to enhance technology & content in gaming
Loco is one of the fore-runners in the live-streamed games industry. The funds raised will enhance streaming technology and content, while also developing the gamer-creator ecosystem, stated a spokesman for the company.
The fresh infusion of funds is estimated to raise the start-up’s valuation to approximately USD 200 million. The company, officially named as Loco Interactive Pte did not comment on the valuation when contacted.
Currently, India has a market of approximately 400 million active gamers, said Anirudh Pandita, the co-founder of Loco. He also said that younger Indians are spending a substantial amount of time in the virtual world, which is breaking down barriers in the urban – rural divide.
The live-stream format for games is in its nascent stage in India, whereas in countries like the US, Japan and Korea, it is a mainstream form of entertainment. Additionally, Indian users access live streams from their mobile devices, whereas in more developed markets, console-based and PC-based gaming is more the norm.
The number of users on Loco’s platform has increased 15-fold since last year, while the amount of time users spend on live-streamed games has grown almost 80 times compared to the same period last year said Pandita in a statement.
The funders of Loco met at the University of Illinois and worked on Wall Street prior to starting Pocket Aces – a digital studio that created streaming content for television consumption. The gaming start-up spun-off from Pocket Aces last year.
Ethan Kim, co-founder of Hashed, stated that India is one of the most interesting gaming markets and almost 40% of its gamer population are in the 14-30 age group. This group represents the bulk of the player population worldwide.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has said that mobiles are the primary vehicle for the gaming market in India, mainly due to access to affordable smartphones, and growing at 15 per cent year-on-year for the past five years. In addition to this, high-speed 4G internet penetration and the world’s lowest data tariffs have contributed to this growth.
In 2019, the online gaming market in India was estimated to be worth USD 820 million with an estimated 300 million gamers, an increase of 41.6 percent from 2018. The industry is estimated to grow to 510 million gamers in the country by the end of 2022.