Studio Sirah said it has raised $2.6 million in a pre-series A round led by Kalaari Capital and existing investor Lumikai.
The game studio will use the funds for the global launch of its first game ‘Kurukshetra: Ascension’ — a free-to-play card battler themed on the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana — by mid-2023. Studio Sirah will also use a part of the funds to build a second game title.
Prior to this, Studio Sirah had raised $830,000 in September 2021 in a seed round led by Lumikai and a pool of angels including Akshat Rathee (founder, Nodwin Games), Alexis Bonte (chief operating officer, Stillfront Games), Piyush Shah (cofounder, Inmobi), Roshni Rathi (partner, BCG), and Sameer Pitalwalla (Head Of Gaming, Google Cloud).
In an interaction with DealStreetAsia, Studio Sirah’s co-founder Abhaas Shah said he started the company with his brother Prateek Shah during the pandemic. The idea germinated from a couch conversation to bring the Mahabharata into strategy gaming.
“People often ask why we can’t have games based on Indian culture,” said Abhaas.
With over 120,000 organic downloads in beta, Kurukshetra: Ascension is available for early access on Google’s Play Store and the online gaming platform Steam. He said the company expects to be operationally profitable and have revenues of $1.5 million by end-2023.
India has been witnessing strong growth in its online gaming market, fuelled by a rapidly increasing gamer base, higher conversion to paid users, and the increasing sophistication of Indian gamers. According to a report by Lumikai, with 15 billion downloads, India was the world’s largest consumer of mobile games in FY22.
Salone Sehgal, Founding General Partner, Lumikai said: “The last 28 months have been watershed years in terms of VC investment with over $2.6 billion invested in the Indian gaming landscape. Sustained capital investment and liquidity outcomes in the form of strategic exits valued at $750 million+, multiple unicorns, and a publicly-traded company [Nazara Technologies] have heightened the interests of entrepreneurs and investors alike.”
Studio Sirah’s funding comes at a time when companies across most sectors and geographies have been struggling with a funding crunch while fighting hard to survive. Some have had to lay off thousands of employees and even shut shop. “Funding was a long journey. It came at a time when survival was more essential than in most periods,” Abhaas said.
Earlier this month, casual gaming startup Giga Fun Studios raised $2.4 million in a seed round led by Lumikai and Fireside Ventures. In Sept, Kalaari Capital invested $1.5 million in a seed funding round in the Delhi-based gaming and Web 3.0 upskilling platform Outscal.