Mumbai-based game streaming platform Loco has raised $9 million from investors, including South Korean gaming company Krafton Inc., which brought PUBG in India, and gaming media fund Lumikai. The funding is Krafton’s first investment in India. Hiro Capital, Axilor Ventures, and 3one4 Capital also participated in the financing round.
Livestreaming of games has been globally promoted by Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch in the U.S. and DouYu International Holdings Ltd. and Huya Inc. in China. However, India lacking a gaming legacy on consoles or desktops, witnessed a boost during the pandemic, as million people restricted indoors by the nationwide lockdown turned to their smartphones to seek entertainment.
Krafton’s PUBG Mobile, distributed in India by Tencent Holdings Ltd., was among the most popular games in the country before it was banned last year. Mumbai-based Loco will become a separate entity from the parent company Pocket Aces.
Funds will be used to improve content and technology
Loco will use these funds to improve the streaming technology and content as the startup is officially called Loco Interactive Pte, founded by Anirudh Pandita and Ashwin Suresh. They met as engineering undergraduates at the University of Illinois. Before starting Pocket Aces Pvt, the duo worked at Wall Street, a digital studio producing streaming content to create an alternative for traditional television entertainment.
“Cheap data and inexpensive phones brewed a perfect situation in India, creating a completely new category of entertainment. Over 100 million monthly active users in India engage with these games. Imagine 100 million people playing a sport that no one’s watching — that’s what Loco set out to solve for,” said Anirudh Pandita.
Loco has snowballed in the past year, with monthly active users growing six times and monthly active streamers increasing ten times. Its main competitor is Google-owned YouTube, the startup said.
“Over two-thirds of India’s millennials are gamers,” said Salone Sehgal, general partner of Lumikai. India’s esports and streaming industry will grow at an average annual clip of 36% over the next three years, while game streaming watch time in India is already twice the global average, he added.
Loco has a list of the country’s best-known streamers playing popular games like Clash of Clans, FreeFire, and Call of Duty Mobile. It also hosts top esports teams and their tournaments, though the genre is still in its nascent stage in India.
“India’s big focus is on mobile games,” said Ashwin Suresh. “The best mobile game players in the world will come from India.”