Mumbai: Indian Angel Network Services Pvt. Ltd’s investors, including former head of Yahoo India Pvt. Ltd, Sharad Sharma, and Google India Pvt. Ltd managing director Rajan Anandan, have invested an undisclosed sum in Bangalore-based social gaming start-up, HashCube Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Founded in September 2009, HashCube makes puzzle games such as Sudoku Battle and Sudoku Quest on social networking sites and mobile platforms. It has over two million users.
“With the latest capital infusion, we will look at becoming profitable at per user level, bring into market new titles and increase user base,” said Deepan Chakravarthy, co-founder, HashCube, who is eyeing a user base of 50 million in 12-18 months.
Sharma, who will be joining the board of HashCube, said he was focusing on making bets on companies looking at the global gaming space for over a year now. “There is a new trend where Indian companies will play role in global social gaming. India will produce several social gaming players in the years to come,” he said.
Experts say investors are realizing that engaging users online has a direct correlation to time spent and thereby advertisement spend.
The social gaming market in India was Rs 240 crore in 2010 and is expected to touch Rs 1,430 crore by 2014, according to a report by industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and consultancy firm KPMG.
India has close to 12-13 million social media gamers, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 14%, the report said.
For HashCube, revenues are generated through advertisement on games and the sale of virtual goods associated with various games. The company is focused on the US, west European and Canadian markets.
“India is still a nascent market for social gaming. We feel that if a company is innovative and data-driven, it can continue with its upward trajectory,” said Sharma.
On exit options available for the investor, Sharma said social gaming companies with a substantial user base can look at becoming part of larger firms. Social gaming is a segment that can provide great business opportunities, said Raghav Anand, segment champion, new media, at consultancy Ernst and Young.
“The challenge here is to balance the customer base vis-a-vis the advertisements exposure. If there are less number of concurrent users then the ad exposure is likely to be less,” Anand said. “However, with an increase in concurrent users, bandwidth and infrastructure costs will rise, calling for increased ad sales which can prove difficult at times for an emerging business.”
Others say that to be a global company, one needs deep pockets. “To be a global level player, one easily needs $10 million worth investments excluding the advertising expenditure,” said Alok Kejriwal, chief executive and co-founder of Games2win India Pvt. Ltd, an online gaming company.