Studio Sirah raises $830K seed round to build mid-core, India-first games
Lumikai is thrilled to lead the $830K seed round into Studio Sirah, a new mobile gaming studio with a bold, exciting mandate to build the next generation of games based on the rich 5,000 year old metaverse of Indian mythology.
We are proud to bring together and co-invest with a tactical group of strategic angels in this round including Akshat Rathee (Founder, Nodwin Gaming), Alexis Bonte (COO, Stillfront Games), Piyush Shah, (Co-founder, Inmobi), Roshni Rathi (Partner, BCG) and Sameer Pitalwalla (Epic Games).
Abhaas and Prateek are avid gamers with strong technical and business backgrounds (previously with Nvidia, Bain, ex IIM/Berkeley/Georgia Tech Engineering) having grown up playing games like Age of Empires, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft. When we first met them, we were struck by their ambition, deep thinking, and astute observations around the need for progression/immersion by the maturing Indian gamer and the potential for culturally resonant mid-core games in the Indian market. Their thesis firmly aligned with our view of the fast-changing reality on the ground.
We have witnessed first-hand the early trajectory of IP-based games in the Chinese market and its success in unlocking value. In addition, the trailblazer phenomenon is real in India e.g monetising free-to-play, first-person shooter games were considered an impossibility before the explosive emergence of PUBG, Free Fire, and more recently Genshin Impact.
The studio’s first game is a digital, mobile-first CCG (card collectible game) based on the characters from the Indian epic-Mahabharata. It combines elements of strategy and battle with unique card-based mechanics.
CCG’s are a significant sub-genre of mid-core games and are a $2Bn stand-alone market, growing at 20% per annum. Historically, every major gaming nation underwent a CCG boom- Japan (2010–2015), China (2012–2017), and the US (2014–2019). This category is severely under-penetrated in the Indian market with no market leader. CCG’s are also unique in their ability to monetise by leveraging the innate human desire for collection, creation, personalisation, trading, and building deep micro-economies with gacha mechanics. CCG’s, when done right, are incredibly retentive and also monetise 8–10x better with niche audiences than any other genre. Indians growing in the ’90s will remember collecting Tazo, Pokemon, and Jenga cards and the massive underground economy enabled by trading them!
A key driver of success in this segment is leveraging relatable IPs to create immersive experiences. Most successful CCGs are created from already existing IPs, for instance, Hearthstone is based on the Warcraft universe and Gwent is based on the Witcher series. This gives developers a large pot of characters and themes to utilise in the CCG universe thereby making it crucial for the IP to be extensive. Further, these IPs are relatable (most of them are popular RPGs, MOBAs, or MMORPGs), with the familiarity aiding the user acquisition and engagement.
In this case, there is a precedent of media (and games) inspired by historical and cultural themes gaining traction (Bahubali, Chotta Bheem, Mahabharata-The TV show, Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Chronicles etc). This is exactly what Studio Sirah aims to leverage with its first game. By combining India’s 5000-year heritage, mythological lore, and blending in deep philosophical concepts of karma and dharma in their gameplay, the founders are charting an incredibly exciting path for Indian gamers.
Abhaas and Prateek exemplify internal resolve with external awareness. They maintain a great balance between focus and passion, enthusiasm and detachment with aplomb, so critical for game studios and incredibly rare to find.
At Lumikai, we are thrilled to support them and can’t wait to see what they build.
N.B. The team is actively hiring! So, if you would like to find out more, reach out to them here- https://www.studiosirah.com/join-us.