Animoca, Galaxy Interactive and Polygon back gaming firm nCore in web3 push

nCore Games has raised $10 million in a new financing round as the top Indian gaming firm gears up to launch web3 offerings, its top executives said Monday.

Animoca Brands and Galaxy Interactive, two high-profile investors in the crypto space, led the funding. Polygon, a popular layer 2 Ethereum scaling solution, and Hyperedge Capital also participated in the round.

Scores of angel investors including Amitabh Singhal, Sandeep Nailwal, Kanwaljit Bombra, Sohil Chand, Ashish Chand, Ram Madhvani, Rakesh Kaul, Mannan Adenwala, Sanjay Narang, Taj Haslani, Kristian Segerstrale, Sanjay Gondal, Vedant Baali, Kartik Prabhakara, Peter Leung, Yashraj Akashi and Akshay Chaturvedi also invested in the round.

nCore Games houses a number of gaming studios including Studio nCore, Dot9 Games, and IceSpice. Its portfolio includes multiplayer action-title Fau-G and Pro Cricket Mobile that have garnered tens of millions of downloads.

The startup plans to launch and invest in more games this year, said Vishal Gondal, co-founder of nCore Games, in an interview with TechCrunch.

But the bigger focus with the funding is expansion into the metaverse, he said. nCore Games is evaluating launching its own NFTs and tokens and may do so in the next few months, he said.

India has emerged as one of the largest mobile games markets globally by download counts. PUBG Mobile, before it was banned by New Delhi, had amassed over 50 million monthly active users in India. But gaming firms have struggled to efficiently monetize this user base because of low-penetration of in-app purchases and small ticket advertising dollars.

“The growth of gaming in India is already undeniable and the market is poised to take another huge leap forward,” said Sam Englebardt, General Partner at Galaxy Interactive, in a statement.

Gondal, an industry gaming veteran who sold his previous venture to Disney, said there’s a shift in the gaming economy, especially in the developing markets where firms have largely relied on advertisement to generate revenue. He cited the popularity of Axie Infinity in the Philippines, a market similar to India where in-app purchase revenue is not high.

Drawing parallels between India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Gondal said he is optimistic that web3 offerings that have made inroads in several categories and in many markets will prove popular with gaming in India. Gondal said web3 is positioned to enable the right incentive structure to all stakeholders.

“Currently when you’re playing a game, the maximum upside for you was to become part of some community. Now while you’re playing the game, you also have the chance to own the value of the game,” he said.

Tejraj Parab, the chief executive of IceSpice, said nCore Games is eyeing making a universal token that all of its games as well as those of the partner firms will provide to the community. The startup is also hoping to make its technology available to other game developers to leverage, he said.

Dayanidhi MG, the chief executive of Studio nCore, said, “we are excited to embrace the emerging trends and technologies in the company of global leaders and highly successful funds, companies and veterans to take nCore to the next level with exponential growth.”

Web3 is beginning to gain traction in India. Indian startup Faze, backed by Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital India, last year partnered with ICC, the global governing body of cricket, to launch NFTs for cricketers. The startup is currently holding talks to raise a new financing round from Insight Partners, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Several Bollywood celebrities have also partnered with firms to launch their own NFTs.

“nCORE Games was started by experienced gaming industry professionals with strong pedigrees. This is one of our most promising investments in India, which has a large gaming market with a massive growth potential,” said Yat Siu, the executive chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, in a statement. “nCORE Games has the right team to leverage blockchain and NFTs in games to deliver digital property rights to players, and we look forward to many successful products as we move toward a global open metaverse.”