Loco, an Indian video game streaming platform, received $ 9 million from investors including South Korean game company Krafton Inc. as part of its first fundraising effort to capitalize on the growing popularity of game-based entertainment in the South Asian nation. The Mumbai-based startup has also been supported in its seed cycle by Lumikai Ltd., India’s premier gaming media fund, London-based Hiro Capital, and start-up investors including 3one4 Capital and Axilor Ventures. Loco will use the funds to upgrade its technology and content, the startup said in an announcement Monday.
Live game streaming was popularized worldwide by Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch in the United States and DouYu International Holdings Ltd. and Huya Inc. in China. In India – which has no legacy of gaming on consoles or desktops – the genre received a boost during the pandemic, as the hundreds of millions of people locked inside turned to their smartphones for to be entertained. Krafton’s PUBG Mobile, previously distributed in India by Tencent Holdings Ltd., was among the country’s most popular games before it was banned last year and is now returning to the market.
“Cheap data and cheap phones have created a perfect situation in India, creating a whole new category of entertainment,” co-founder Anirudh Pandita said in an interview. “Over 100 million monthly active users in India play these games, imagine 100 million people playing a sport that no one watches, that’s what Loco set out to solve.”
Loco Interactive Pte, as the startup is officially called, was founded by Pandita and Ashwin Suresh, who met as engineering students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The duo went on to work on Wall Street before launching Pocket Aces Pvt, a digital studio creating streaming content to provide an alternative to traditional TV entertainment. The games startup will spin off from Pocket Aces with this funding, the statement said.
Loco has grown rapidly over the past year, with a six-fold increase in monthly active users and a 10-fold increase in monthly active streamers. Its main competitor is currently Google-owned YouTube, the startup said.
“More than two-thirds of Indian millennials are gamers,” said Salone Sehgal, general partner of Lumikai. India’s esports and streaming industry is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 36% over the next three years, while game streaming time in India is already double the global average , he added.
Loco has a list of the most well-known streamers in the country playing popular games like Clash of Clans, FreeFire, and Call of Duty Mobile. It is also home to top esports teams and their tournaments, although the genre remains a niche in India.
“India is primarily focused on mobile games,” Suresh said. “The best mobile game players in the world will definitely come from India.”
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