India’s game development startup sector, which has largely been dominated by startups making interactive mobile games, will now see a new high-quality, console game maker joining in. LightFury games, co-founded by former Unacademy CMO Karan Shroff and officially launched last week, has secured a total of $8.5Mn in seed funding.

Leading the investment is Blume Ventures, joined by Japanese mobile entertainment giant Mixi, micro VC firm Gemba Capital, and angel investors like Kunal Shah (founder of Cred) and Gaurav Munjal (co-founder of Unacademy). The seed funding is likely to help LightFury propel towards the AAA gaming segment, a domain traditionally dominated by established Western and Asian studios, by producing Indian-made AAA games and driving recruitment in India and the UK.

Shroff isn’t venturing into this territory alone, and is flanked by two accomplished co-founders with proven track records: Anurag Banerjee, a gaming industry veteran with experience at powerhouses like Ubisoft and WB Games Montreal, and Tina Balachandran, who formerly held executive positions at both Unacademy and Tencent Games. Shroff will spearhead the company as CEO, while Banerjee will leverage his expertise as Group CPTO (Chief Product and Technology Officer). Balachandran, on the other hand, will take charge of human resources and operations, ensuring a well-oiled organizational structure.

“The ability to piece together the talent and bring in believers from the gaming and consumer universe make it one of the most exciting investments we’ve made in this space,” said Karthik Reddy, cofounder and managing partner of Blume Ventures. “Creating successful AAA titles in the Indian market and establishing a Tencent-like presence originating from India, is what we are excited to bring to the fore,” Shroff commented on the matter. “It would necessitate building the finest expertise and leveraging state-of-the-art technological innovations to ensure top-tier gameplay quality.”

For those who need a refresher, AAA (Triple-A) games represent the highest echelon of video game development. Often boasting multi-million dollar budgets and years of production time, these titles are characterized by cutting-edge graphics, expansive open worlds, and immersive gameplay mechanics, and are typically developed by large, established studios. Some of the popular AAA titles include popular franchises like Grand Theft Auto, The Witcher, Assassin’s Creed, and Call of Duty.

For its part, India boasts the world’s largest gaming market by user base, exceeding a staggering 568 million gamers. The mobile gaming segment reigns supreme, accounting for a significant portion of this growth, and is led by the likes of Dream11 and MPL, which have emerged as gaming unicorns. However, the development of homegrown AAA titles has remained elusive. While there have been attempts, such as beta launches of games like Underworld Gang Wars by MPL’s Mayhem Studios and Indus Battle Royale by Pune-based SuperGaming, a true AAA success story from India is yet to be written, and that is where LightFury aims to come in.

The nation’s massive and growing gaming user base presents a ready audience for high-quality AAA titles, and the country already has a rapidly growing pool of talented developers and artists. Still, the AAA gaming space is fiercely competitive, dominated by established Western and Asian studios with a proven track record, and LightFury will be facing an uphill task in standing out in this crowded market and carving a niche for Indian-developed AAA titles.

Nonetheless, the burgeoning Indian gaming landscape has not only attracted domestic players like LightFury, but has caught the eye of international gaming giants as well. Companies like Krafton (South Korea) are making significant investments in the Indian gaming sector. Additionally, venture capital firms are alsp launching dedicated gaming-focused funds.