India’s Bombay Play raises $7M for instant mobile games

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Bombay Play has raised $7 million in a new round of funding so it can build more instant games on platforms such as Facebook.

The Bangalore, India-based company is focusing on “hypersocial gaming,” or casual games that you can play with your friends, said Oliver Jones, CEO of Bombay Play, in an interview with GamesBeat. Bombay Play has already seen success with more than 40 million players worldwide.

The funding round was led by Kalaari Capital while also witnessing participation from all of its existing investors namely Lumikai Fund, Leo Capital, and PlayCo. Other new investors like Winzo, AdvantEdge VC, AMEA Ventures among others.

It wasn’t necessarily that easy to raise the round, as the company isn’t making blockchain games, Jones said.

“We’re raising money at a time when crypto is all the rage and pitching a traditional gaming company was not so cool,” Jones said, who started the company with Abhas Saroha. “We found ourselves saying, ‘We are good game developers. And that’s what we’re going to pitch. We’re not going to sort of sell you anything other than that we make great games.’ We purely relied on things like traction. user engagement and revenue.”

Bombay Play founders Oliver Jones and Abhas Saroha.

Indeed, the company has 40 million players that it can talk about, and it can talk about how it’s making real money.

“We’ve found some really great success in these instant games. These games don’t require downloads,” Jones said. “The sweet spot we found is the games that are easy to pick up, and super easy to socialize.”

With the capital raised, the company plans to invest it in scaling its existing “hypersocial” game offerings, supporting upcoming projects while also devoting part of the money. Word games are one of the categories the company will focus on.

“Wordle is what we bring up when people ask us to explain hypersocial, said Abhas Saroha, cofounder of Bombay Play, in an interview with GamesBeat. “It has a very strong community around it. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Jones added, “Wordle is the new FarmVille.”

Bombay Play’s games include titles like Dice Merge Puzzle, Card Party, and Daily Word Puzzle. These games take about three months or six months to develop, Jones said. In that sense, they’re not as simple as hypercasual games, which can be developed in much shorter games. The company tries to soft launch its games as early as it can.

“We’re in between casual games and hypercasual games,” Jones said.

Last year, the company launched eight games. This year, it plans to launch 24.

While the company is focused on Facebook Instant Games, it is going to distribute its games across multiple platforms and channels. The games are popular in India, but they’re also big in the rest of the world. The audience is in places in Asia like India, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.

“We’ve also found highly engaged users in tier one countries when it comes to gaming in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. We’re gaining traction and seeing revenue coming mostly from those areas,” Jones said.

The company has now raised over $9.5 million in capital, and the latest financing more than quadruples the valuation of its Pre-Series A round in 2020.

Salone Sehgal, general partner at Lumikai, India’s first gaming and interactive media fund, is one of Bombay Play’s early investors.

“At Lumikai, we have witnessed the tremendous evolution of Bombay Play as a studio from seed to scale,” she said in a statement. “Oliver and Abhas, as veteran gaming entrepreneurs, bring extensive domain expertise, strong user insights, data-driven development, and a world-class team towards building hit games from India. We are elated to continue being a support and mentor to Bombay Play’s continued growth and commitment to introduce shared social experiences.”

Bombay Play’s team

Founded in 2018 by Oliver Jones and Abhas Saroha, Bombay Play is currently headquartered in Bangalore and has 50 people. The company plans to double its staff by the end of the year.

“We were highly impressed with what Oliver and Abhas have been able to achieve and they are definitely one of the
most experienced gaming entrepreneurs in the country today,” said Vani Kola, managing director of Kalaari Capital, “We are very excited about how they are disrupting the casual gaming industry with their hypersocial model and are delighted to partner with them in this journey.”

Jones said the company has been studying blockchain technology for games and he believes many companies are excited about it. But he sees the company focusing on quality games first, and monetization second. So he expects it could be a pillar in the future, but not necessarily a core part of the company.

Making games in India is cost effective, but perhaps not as much as it used to be. The costs for Indian game developers are similar to cost in Eastern Europe, Jones said.

“And gaming companies can hire from anywhere,” Saroha said. “It’s really a globalized the workforce and salaries in India have been improving a lot. But it’s fine for a startup like us because we’re not optimizing so much for the cost. We are optimizing to release good games.”

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