Indian Mobile Game Developer Moonfrog Labs Nabs $15M From Tiger And Sequoia

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Moonfrog Labs, a Bangalore-based startup that makes mobile games especially for players in India, has scooped up a $15 million Series A from Tiger Global and returning investor Sequoia Capital.

Co-founder Tanay Tayal tells TechCrunch that the fresh capital will be used for hiring and to develop games in new genres, including action, strategy, and roleplaying. Moonfrog Labs also plans to grow its technology platform, including its backend system and data analytics, and purse strategic distribution agreements.

Its Series A brings the total Moonfrog Labs has raised so far to $16 million. It previously landed a $1 million seed round from Sequoia.

The startup was founded in 2013 by a team of developers who previously worked for Zynga on titles including Mafia Wars, Bubble Safari, Castleville, and Empires & Allies. Moonfrog Labs’ most popular game is “Teen Patti Gold,” which has been downloaded more than two million times and is currently one of the top five highest-grossing Android and iOS games in India. The company also claims it generates the highest revenue per active player in India from in-app purchases.

Tayal says challenges of designing mobile games for players in India include include the relatively high price of data and unreliable, slow broadband connections. Moonfrog Labs’ games are engineered to use less bandwidth and battery power so they can be played even on the cheapest smartphones.

In terms of culture appeal, “Teen Patti Gold” is based on a three-card poker game that is popular in India and comes in four languages: English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi.

Moonfrog Labs also hold promotions based on major events and holidays in India.

“For example, last week was India’s festival of color, ‘Holi,’ during which we released a feature that allows players to haul dye and paint at one another across the table, just as they do during the festivities. Our players loved it, and the feature was a big success,” says Tayal. “We did a similar event during Diwali, the festival of lights.”

Moonfrog Labs monetizes through in-app purchases instead of ads because it believes uninterrupted gameplay helps users stay more engaged. The startup will release new titles over the next couple of years and is also building a new platform for multiplayer games.